By Henry Chen
People first enjoyed the table tennis sport in the Olympic Games in the year of 1988. At that time, the Games were held in the capital of Korea Republic, Seoul, and their players capitalised on their home-court advantage.
Yoo Namkyu and Kim Gitaek got the gold and silver respectively in the Men’s Singles. The team also secured the bronze in the Men’s Doubles with Yoo Namkyu and Ahn Jaehyung. Lastly, the Women’s Doubles pairing of Hyun Junghwa and Yang Youngja clinched the gold in their event.
A total of four Olympic medals in the first year table tennis was included in the Olympic Games. Since then, the team always returned home with a medal, except for the Rio Olympic Games.
Of course, this is a major concern for the Korea Republic Team. According to Ahn Jaehyung, now the team’s Performance Director, they need a very promising young player who can be the future of the team.
He is actually eyeing Cho Seungmin.
He was responsible for giving Wang Chuqin a very challenging match in last year’s World Junior Championships, scoring 3-4. In fact, he was the player who came the closest in defeating a Chinese player in that competition. He also won last year’s Korean Junior Open.
Cho Seungmin just doesn’t have the potential, he also shares the same name with Ryu Seungmin. Even the name sounds like an Olympic champion.
The decreasing morale of the Korea Republic Team is clear and that is because of their instability in some major important competitions just like in the 2014 World Team Championships.
Their team had to wrestle their way through the qualifying rounds before their playing lineup of Joo Saehyuk, Jung Youngsik and Cho Eonrae got defeated by Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinal bout, recording a 2-3 score.
That affected not just their confidence but their world standing as well. 2004 Olympic champion Ryu Seungmin acknowledged this concern in 2014 when he gave his support to the National Team as coach.
As of now, the future of the team is in the hands of their next generation of players like Cho Seungmin. Would they be able to meet the expectations?