by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Classic skills, backspin strokes from the textbook and controlled attacking strokes when required, combine to make Kim Song I one of the planet earth’s very best female defensive players. Some may even argue, with justification, that she is the best.
Usually, success is measured by wins, it can be the criteria when considering Kim Song I, but it is the few defeats in 2016 that underline her quality, her remarkable consistency. Furthermore against one notable adversary, defeat was soon avenged.
At the Perfect World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur, she experienced just two losses. In the group phase of proceedings she was beaten by Mima Ito in a three-nil defeat against Japan; later at the semi-final stage she reversed the decision against the Japanese teenager. She was the one winner for her team in a three-one defeat.
The one further loss was in the quarter-finals when confronting Singapore; she was beaten by Feng Tianwei but redeemed herself to overcome Yu Mengyu in the vital fifth and deciding contest.
Later in Rio de Janeiro, after causing a major upset in the Women’s Singles event by overcoming Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa and then recording wins over Chinese Taipei’s Chen Zu-Yu and Yu Mengyu, her progress was halted at the semi-final stage by the very best player on view. She lost to China’s Ding Ning the champion elect.
Victory over Ai Fukuhara, like Kasumi Ishikawa from Japan, sealed the gold medal.
Defeat at the hands of a most worthy adversary from China in the Women’s Singles competition; it was the same in the Women’s Team event, the only loss was against Liu Shiwen in a three-nil quarter-final reverse.
Throughout, in addition to her superlative technical skills, her desire, her perseverance, her will to win was most evident.
Sheer determination and endless patience was clear in her seven games win over Kasumi Ishikawa in Rio de Janeiro, as it was on her way to winning the Women’s Singles title in Pyongyang.
At the semi-final stage she beat China’s Fan Siqi by the minimal two point margin in the deciding game before doing exactly the same in the final when overcoming colleague, Ri Myong Sun.
Resolve, willpower and fortitude have been on view wherever she has played; considering any player who displays those qualities, there is a strong vote for Kim Song I.
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