by Simon Daish
To reach the top step of the podium in sport is a special achievement, even for the world’s most established athletes. What made Jang Woojin’s men’s singles outing even more impressive was that, as an unseeded competitor, his venture began in the qualification tournament.
Successfully negotiating the qualification rounds Jang Woojin opened his main draw campaign with a convincing victory over Germany’s Patrick Franziska before claiming a major scalp in round two, eliminating China’s Xu Xin. Jang Woojin then recovered from a 1-3 deficit to beat fellow Korean Jeong Sangeun 4-3, toppling Japan’s Jun Mizutani one round later to earn himself a spot in the gold medal match.
With the backing of the home crowd Jang Woojin capped off a magnificent journey in fine style, prevailing over China’s Liang Jingkun in straight games to win his second men’s singles title on the ITTF World Tour.
A mighty achievement for the young Korean, but that wasn’t his only success in Daejeon having also impressed on the doubles front: pairing with fellow countryman Lim Jonghoon, the Korean duo saw off partnerships from Chinese Taipei, Japan, China and Hong Kong to lift the men’s doubles trophy.
However, arguably the biggest story came in the mixed doubles event as Jang Woojin and DPR Korea’s Cha Hyo Sim secured a gold medal finish in a truly wonderful tale of unity on the Korean Peninsula.
Three titles in Daejeon, Jang Woojin made history by becoming the first-ever ITTF World Tour triple crown winner, a feat that has been repeated only once by China’s Xu Xin at the recent 2019 Japan Open.
So far this year Jang Woojin has managed two quarter-final finishes on the international scene, coming at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships and 2019 Japan Open, the latter of which saw the Korean star produce a fantastic 4-0 win over Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
Returning to the stage that provided him with so much success last year, Jang Woojin will contest the men’s singles event as the no.6 seeded player. The 22-year-old will once again pair up with Lim Jonghoon in the men’s doubles but won’t be present in mixed doubles action. So, there will be no triple crown repeat this time out, but can Jang Woojin successfully defend two of his titles in Busan?