TOKYO, July 29 (Yonhap) – South Korean table tennis players ended the Tokyo Games empty-handed, suffering from a shortage of Olympic medals in individual events for four consecutive tournaments.
Not all South Korean table tennis players made it to the semi-finals of the singles or doubles events at the Tokyo Olympics which started last Friday.
In mixed doubles, newly featured at this year’s Olympics, the South Korean duo of Lee Sang-su and Jeon Ji-hee were the most 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 men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals, respectively, while Jang Woo-jin and Shin Yu-bin lost in the round of 16.
Instead, Japan won their first gold medal in mixed doubles table tennis at the Tokyo Olympics.
As a result, South Korea has not won any medals in any table tennis singles or doubles events since 2004, when Ryu Seung-min, the current head of the Korea Table Tennis Association (KTTA) , won gold at the 2004 Summer Olympics in men’s singles. That year, South Korea also captured a silver medal in women’s doubles.
Since 1988, when table tennis was included in the official Olympic sports programming, South Korea was one of the countries that threatened the dominance of China.
He won four medals at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, including two gold from Yoo Nam-kyu in men’s singles and Hyun Jung-hwa and Yang Young-ja in women’s doubles.
Four years later, he won two bronze medals in table tennis and one bronze in 2000.
Experts noted that South Korean table tennis must make long-term plans to uncover young talent and develop effective training programs to end the 20-year drought in the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics.
“We have to beat the Chinese and Japanese players in the quarterfinals to win a medal,” said former doubles gold medalist Hyun Jung-hwa. “We have to recruit talented players and help them train hard and challenge the Olympics like Japan did in Tokyo.”
The KTTA has said it will begin preparations for the 2024 Olympics soon.
“We see that we need strategic planning to encourage athletes,” said Ryu. “The KTTA will be launching a new project for the next three years.”