by Simon Daish
22-year-old Kim Song I has shown remarkable progress in her career over the last few years and has established a strong all-round game with a highly consistent defence combing well with her powerful forehand attack.
One of the standout moments in the early moments of Kim Song I’s time in the sport came at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. The DPR Korea representative stunned the eventual champion Gu Yuting of China in the early stages of the Women’s Singles competition before going on to achieve a top eight finish.
Since then Kim Song I has gone from strength to strength and 2016 proved to be a highly successful year for the player.
Participating at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Kim Song I and her DPR Korea teammates impressed on the world stage defeating Singapore on the way to a semi-finals finish in the Women’s Championship Division.
Kim Song I then went on to become the most successful player from DPR Korea on the ITTF World Tour with her victory over Ri Myong Sun (11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 4-11, 8-11, 6-11, 11-9) in the Women’s Singles final at the 2016 Pyongyang Open seeing Kim Song I gain her fourth title.
However, while her achievements at the World Team Championships and on the ITTF World Tour were fantastic moments for Kim Song I, it was her amazing display at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro which caught the attention of table tennis fans from across the globe.
Starting her Rio 2016 campaign off with a positive result against Poland’s Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc (11-9, 11-2, 11-6, 11-6), Kim Song I registered a huge upset in the Round of 64 in the Women’s Singles category by eliminating the no.4 seed Kasumi Ishikawa from the competition (7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8).
Subsequent victories over Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu (11-2, 11-6, 10-12, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9) and Singapore’s Yu Mengyu (11-8, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6) followed for Kim Song I, and while she lost out to the top seed Ding Ning of China in the last four, the DPR Korea competitor rounded off a terrific performance at Rio 2016 with a bronze medal victory over the sixth seed Ai Fukuhara of Japan (11-7, 11-7, 11-5, 12-14, 11-5).
Becoming the first table tennis player from DPR Korea to win a medal at an Olympic Games since Kim Hyang-Mi won a silver medal at Athens 2004, Kim Song I’s amazing year was capped off with a nomination for the Female Star Player of the Year Award.
Kim Song I proved throughout the course of last year that she can challenge the world’s finest table tennis stars on the big stage and, if the DPR Korea player can put in a similar display at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships, then the Women’s Singles competition is guaranteed to deliver a fascinating battle for silverware.