Korea’s top-ranked An fires Olympic warning with Paris title

Champion An Se-young of Korea celebrates during the awarding ceremony for the women's singles event at French Open Badminton tournament in Paris, France, March 10. Xinhua-Yonhap

Champion An Se-young of Korea celebrates during the awarding ceremony for the women’s singles event at French Open Badminton tournament in Paris, France, March 10. Xinhua-Yonhap

Badminton world number one An Se-young fired an Olympic warning after winning the French Open title in the Paris arena that will stage matches this summer.

The Korean won her 21st BWF World Tour crown and second of the year with an 18-21, 21-13, 21-10 defeat of Japanese rival Akane Yamaguchi on Sunday in the French capital.

The 22-year-old An, who will be favorite to win a first Olympic gold in four months’ time, said: “This is an important event before the Olympics and I felt a lot of pressure at first.

“Winning in the Olympic arena means a lot and I feel very happy.

“I guess when I come back here for the Olympics I will be in a positive frame of mind.”

The tournament at Porte de la Chapelle Arena was also treated as a test event for Paris Olympic organisers.

An has risen to the top of women’s badminton after a breakthrough 2023, but she has struggled in recent weeks with a knee injury.

Former world number one Yamaguchi, who has also been held back by recent injury, was contesting her first World Tour final since September 2023.

The 26-year-old said that she ran out of steam in the 64-minute title decider.

“I slowed down in the third,” said the Japanese player, ranked four in the world.

“Right now my condition is much better (than two months ago) and I was able to make the final, but I feel there’s some more way to go.”

China’s Shi Yuqi, number two in the world, won the men’s French Open title with a 22-20, 21-19 victory over Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

The All England Open, one of the most prestigious tournaments in badminton, begins on Tuesday. (AFP)

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