by Simon Daish
Young but experienced
Boasting a combined age of just 32 years, Cho Daeseong, 17, and Shin Yubin, 15, are officially the youngest pair set to be involved in the mixed doubles contest but the two of them are no strangers to the big stage.
Undoubtedly their standout moment of the year came at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Czech Open in Olomouc as Cho and Shin defied the odds to secure their first mixed doubles gold on the international stage. Shin, who was 14 at the time, created further headlines by becoming the youngest-ever mixed doubles champion in ITTF World Tour history!
One month later and the Korean youngsters were at it again, this time in continental action: competing at the 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Table Tennis Championships in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Cho and Shin won three matches before exiting to eventual silver medallists Wang Chuqin and Sun Yingsha at the quarter-final hurdle.
Cho and Shin’s most recent outing came at the final stop on the 2019 ITTF World Tour in Linz, Austria where they negotiated the qualification rounds prior to beating two seeded opponents in the main event. Stopped at the penultimate stage of play by China’s Lin Gaoyuan and Zhu Yuling but it was another impressive display from the Korean duo and another statement of intent ahead of the season finale.
All star cast in Zhengzhou
The final task on their 2019 checklist is a big one as the Korean teenagers attempt to shock the world at the World Tour Grand Finals in Zhengzhou where some of the biggest names associated with the sport await.
Lifting the first-ever mixed doubles trophy on offer at the World Tour Grand Finals last year in Incheon, Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem are the pair to beat in Zhengzhou. World champions Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen will also be gunning for the title, while the exciting up-and-coming Chinese Taipei pairing of Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching will also be present – then there’s Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito, who possess plenty of bite.
Koreans make for good partnerships
Reaching the last four will prove a difficult task for Cho and Shin but they can take heart with World Tour Grand Finals history being very kind to Korea Republic on the doubles scene.
As a nation Korea Republic has enjoyed a great deal of success in World Tour Grand Finals doubles action having won 32 medals across all three categories, two of which came in the mixed doubles draw last year in Incheon: reaching the third step of the podium on home soil, Lim Jonghoon and Yang Haeun took home bronze while Jang Woojin partnered DPR Korea’s Cha Hyo Sim to a historic silver medal finish in what was seen as a great display of bilateral solidarity for the Korean Peninsula.
Heading to Zhengzhou with nothing to lose and a great deal to gain Cho Daeseong and Shin Yubin will definitely be worth keeping a close eye on as they look to add another World Tour Grand Finals medal to their country’s already vast collection.