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Olympic Games: defensive skills absent

Saturday 29 May

Bronze in Beijing, defensive skills were very much the basis in which the medal was gained by Korea Republic in 2008 in the women’s team event, now for the first time, those attributes are absent.

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, play in the event scheduled to start on Sunday 1st August, three top spin attacking players form the selection, left handers in the guise of Jeon Jihee and Choi Hyojoo join forces with the right handed Shin Yubin. 

Jeon Jihee, the voice of experience in the Korea Republic women's team

Furthermore, they are to some extent tasked with reviving the fortunes of two decades earlier.

In China’s capital city, Kim Kyungah and Park Miyoung used their backspin skills to good effect, teaming with the right handed top spin artiste, Dang Yeseo. Four years later in London they were once again selected, the remaining member of the team being Seok Hajung; no problems for Kim Kyungah but after the opening round fixture against Brazil, Park Miyoung was unable to continue owing to injury. Dang Yeoseo the replacement.

Fourth place was the eventual outcome, a 3-0 defeat when facing Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu being the outcome.

Eventually, one defender on duty, in Rio de Janeiro it was the same, Suh Hyowon fulfilled the role alongside Yang Haeun and most significantly Jeon Jihee. She is the one player in the Tokyo team with previous Olympic Games experience; in the Brazilian city, overall, she lost just one match, pertinently remaining unbeaten in the women’s team competition

Korea Republic recorded a 3-2 success against Romania in the opening round of the women’s team event, before by the same margin, losing in the quarter-finals to Singapore.

Facing Romania, Jeon Jihee beat Elizabeta Samara (11-6, 11-7, 11-7), before partnering Yang Haeun to success against Daniela Dodean and Bernadette Szocs (12-10, 9-11, 13-11, 11-8). Similarly, facing Singapore, Jeon Jihee partnered Yang Haeun, the pair overcoming Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan (11-7, 11-4, 4-11, 10-12, 11-7), after having accounted for Yu Mengyu (11–8, 11–4, 9–11, 11–6).

Defeat for Yu Mengyu but later she extracted revenge; she ended the progress of Jeon Jihee in the fourth round of the women’s singles event (12-10, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-2), one round earlier, Jeon Jihee having ousted Matilda Ekholm (11-2, 11-3, 11-13, 11-4, 11-2).

Now in Tokyo, there no Yang Haeun, in the ITTF World Qualification tournament staged in Gondomar in January 2020, Cho Hyojoo and Shin Yubin proved a most successful partnership; they won four of their five matches.

Surely in the team event they will form the doubles pairing, for 28-year-old Jeon Jihee a position of responsibility, a potential two singles; in Rio de Janeiro she responded, same again in Tokyo and could it be a return to the podium, Beijing revisited?

Editor: Ian Marshall

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