TOKYO, July 29 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s table tennis players have ended the Tokyo Games empty-handed, with a drought of Olympic medals in individual events for four tournaments in a row.
All South Korean ping pong players have failed to reach the semifinals of a singles or doubles event at the Tokyo Olympics that kicked off last Friday.
In the mixed doubles, which debuted at this year’s Olympics, South Korean duo Lee Sang-su and Jeon Ji-hee was the most eagerly anticipated team to win a medal in Tokyo. But they lost 4-2 to Lin Yun Ju and Cheng I-Ching of Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals.
Jeoung Young-sik and Jeon were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the men’s and women’s singles respectively, while Jang Woo-jin and Shin Yu-bin lost in the round of 16.
Instead, Japan won its first table tennis gold in mixed doubles at the Tokyo Olympics.
Consequently, since 2004 when Ryu Seung-min, the current head of the Korean Table Tennis Association (KTTA), captured the gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics, South Korea has not earned a medal in singles or doubles of table tennis. . in the men’s singles. In that year, South Korea also took silver in the women’s doubles.
Since 1988, when table tennis was included in the official Olympic sports lineup, South Korea has been one of the countries threatening China’s dominance.
It won four medals at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, including two gold medals from Yoo Nam-kyu in men’s singles and Hyun Jung-hwa and Yang Young-ja in women’s doubles.
Four years later, it won two bronze medals in table tennis and one bronze in 2000.
Experts noted that South Korean table tennis needs to come up with long-term plans to discover young talent and develop effective training programs to end the 20-year drought at the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
“We have to beat Chinese and Japanese players in the quarter-finals to win a medal,” said former gold doubles medalist Hyun Jung-hwa. “We need to recruit talented players and help them go through intense training and challenge the Olympics like Japan did in Tokyo.”
The KTTA said it will soon begin preparations for the 2024 Olympics.
“We see that we need strategic planning to nurture athletes,” Ryu said. “The KTTA will launch a new project in the next three years.”
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