20 Mar 2017

The 2004 Olympic Men's Singles champion is in Rio de Janeiro but compared to four years ago in London, Ryu Seungmin is one with the crowd cheering for their respective teams. He witnessed the semifinal round of the Korea Republic against China. For him, what he saw was a good performance from his team and at the same time, a respectable opponent.

By Henry Chen 

Among the excited crowd who watched the penultimate battle between China and Korea Republic was the 2004 Olympic Men’s Singles champion, Ryu Seungmin.

Just like any other Korean Republic who watched the round, at least, Ryu Seungmin was also very hopeful for their first contestant in the arena, Jung Youngsik. For him, it was a critical match that could probably destroy the confidence of the opponent. Unfortunately, the expectation was not met.

“Speaking for our team, the opening match was very vital. Jung Youngsik still had a chance in the fourth game but its regretful that Zhang Jike got it. That definitely added to his confidence in the decider. Aside from that, in the aspect of experience, Zhang Jike is much more matured, and his technical qualities were much stronger,” commented Ryu Seungmin.

Jung Youngsik playing in the Olympic Men’s Team semifinal. (Photo by ITTFWorld)

Following the opener was a match between the pillar of Korean Republic table tennis, Joo Saehyuk and the latest Grand Slam champion, Ma Long. Scores would say that the Chinese player had complete dominance in every game but that didn’t change Ryu Seungmin’s perception on his former teammate.

“Joo Saehyuk, in my opinion, is actually a ‘hero,’ he said. “He has represented Korea Republic for over 20 years now. I extremely admire him. His showdown with Ma Long is equally wonderful. He performed extremely well. Its just that in every aspect, Ma Long was in his best condition.

Joo Saehyuk defends Korea Republic in Rio Olympic Games. (Photo by ITTFWorld)

Four years ago in London, Ryu Seungmin was on duty and battled together with Joo Saehyuk and Oh Sangeun. Their teamwork brought the Korean Republic Team to the final round and fought against China.

The three veterans from the Korea Republic came prepared for battle but the younger opponents, Zhang Jike, Ma Long and Wang Hao, were definitely on top of the game. They were swept and settled with silver.

After battling against each other, all players unite for that one precious photo op.

China & Korea Republic after battling in the 2012 London Olympic Games Men’s Team finals. (Photo by China News)

Last August 15, China prevailed over Korea Republic once again and Ryu Seungmin had different thoughts compared to before. He believes that his team performed well and the performance of the Chinese Team is worthy of his respect.

“When we were behind in the scores, I was nervous but compared to when I was still playing, the thoughts were not exactly the same. I am proud of our team’s performance today and at the same time, pay tribute to the Chinese Team,” explained Ryu Seungmin.

When asked if he misses table tennis, he answered:

“Of course!” concluded the 2004 Olympic champion.

Korea Republic will battle against Germany for the Olympic Team bronze medal on the 17th, 11:00 local time. Stay tuned for the results here.

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