The name might be different, but this is the same pair of players that regained the world number 1 spot for the first time in two years. The name change is a request from the Korean Association to change Jung Jae Sung to the name that is on his passport of Chung Jae Sung. The current world number 1 and All England champions partnership is likely to end after the Olympics after 6 years, with Chung Jae Jung being left out of the Thomas Cup team signaling the beginning of the end.
Their partnership has enjoyed countless achievements but on the greatest stage, they have been second best to the pairing of Cai and Fu. Losses in the 2009 and 2011 World Championships to the Chinese pair as well as a 2007 defeat to Kido and Setiawan has robbed them of a world title. Lee Yong Dae has already experienced Olympic success in the mixed doubles in 2008 and will have two more chances at Olympic success after qualifying for the mixed doubles also. For Chung Jae Jung however, this will probably be his final chance at Olympic success. He will turn 30 a few weeks after the Olympics and will Lee Yong Dae already experimenting with new partnerships, this will likely be the last appearance of Chung Jae Jung at the Olympics and probably alongside Lee Yong Dae also.
A 22nd and final matchup with Cai and Fu will ultimately define their rivalry with the Chinese pairing, a victory would almost ensure Olympic gold as well as a 12-10 head to head record, whilst a defeat would ensure they would be the best pairing of this generation never to win a World or Olympic title and tie their 22-game series at 11-11 as well as Cai and Fu’s first Olympic gold.
Who Are The Potential Threats?
Apart from the obvious Cai and Fu threat, there is competition from within the Korean squad in Ko and Yoo who have a 4-4 head to head against the current world number 1 as well as a victory in their most recent encounter in Korea last year. Chai and Guo of China also hold a 2-1 head to head advantage over the Korean pair, including a two game victory in the Super Series finals at the end of 2011.
Are They Favourites For Gold?
Cai and Fu still have the edge when it comes to the matches at the major competitions which includes a two game defeat to the Chinese pair in the same arena at the World Championships a year previously. They are one of the favourites for the title and will almost definitely win a medal in under a months time.
How Important Is This Olympics For Their Legacy?
Nothing short of a victory is needing to cement their legacy as one of the best pairings of this generation. Without a World or Olympic title, they will enter a category of greatest pairs never to win a major title. A victory over Cai and Fu is perhaps also need to validate any argument about which one of the pairs is the best of the past 6 years. A loss to Cai and Fu would be catastrophic, perhaps more for Chung Jae Jung than Lee Yong Dae, who at 23 will have at least one more Olympics in Rio four years from now. The head to head would be 11-11 with a defeat, with Cai and Fu claiming four world and probably an Olympic title in the process.