SEOUL, South Korea (Yonhap) – Shin Yubin (18, Korean Air) and Jeon Ji-hee (30, Mirae Asset Securities) won the women’s doubles silver medal at the 2023 Individual World Table Tennis Championships after overcoming their own obstacles with a relentless spirit of challenge.
Recognized as a “table tennis prodigy” from a young age, Shin emerged as a surprise star at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
However, she did not perform as well as expected, withdrawing from the Individual World Championships in November of that year with a stress fracture in her wrist.
The problem with his wrist, the most important joint in table tennis, slowed his progress for a while. Some fans even labeled him a “bubble.
Early last year, Shin underwent surgery to put pins in his carpal bones and returned to international competition, but the wrist pain returned. In late September, he had to undergo another surgery to remove bone fragments.
Despite the back-to-back surgeries, Shin didn’t stop training. When she couldn’t use her wrist, she lifted weights to increase her power and strengthen her stamina.
In this tournament, her shots were heavier than before. She also had a better sense of how to deal with her opponents’ attacks.
In the end, she defied the odds and defeated the world No. 1 pair from China in the semifinals, becoming the first Korean player to reach the women’s doubles final in 36 years.
Now, the much larger Shin Yubin is a player who can win international doubles titles at any time.
After the tournament, Jeon Jeon-hee said, “I feel that the women’s team has improved a lot because of her,” adding, “Shin Yubin is an ‘all-rounder’ who hasn’t been in the national team before. I feel like she is creating a different path for Korean women’s table tennis.”
Jeon’s journey has been even more dramatic.
Despite being recognized as a global powerhouse, Jeon has struggled at world championships.
After winning a bronze medal at the 2018 World Team Championships, but failing to make the cut at the World Championships and Olympics as an individual, Jeon said she struggled to see Chinese players she considered inferior stand on podiums at Worlds and Olympics.
Last year, a knee injury plagued her. Now, there is talk that her era is coming to an end.
Her move to Mirae Asset Securities in December last year, led by Kim Taek-soo, who coached Korea Table Tennis Association President Yoo Seung-min to a gold medal in the men’s singles at the 2004 Athens Olympics, was a stroke of luck.
“I didn’t put any conditions on it. We only confirmed our intention to challenge for an Olympic medal. It was the simplest contract process I’ve ever experienced as an unemployed team coach. That’s how determined Jeon was,” he said.
The coach, Kim Taek-soo, who had vowed to train the team harshly, did just that.
The harsh training paid off. Jeon won a silver medal at the World Championships just six months after switching teams.
Shin and Jeon’s efforts to push themselves beyond their limits also inspired each other. As enemies in the women’s singles, the duo had a healthy rivalry in the women’s doubles, where they have teamed up since 2019.
“Two years ago, Shin Yubin, who seemed to have stopped being an Olympic shining star, overcame her injuries and grew as a player,” said Ahn Jae-hyung, general chairman of the Korea Table Tennis League (KTTL), “and that spurred Jeon Jeon-hee on, leading to synergy and a silver medal.
The ultimate goal for both Shin and Jeon is an Olympic medal.
Jeon, in particular, sees Paris 2024 as her de facto last chance.
Neither athlete is fully fit. Shin has to constantly manage her wrist joints, and Jeon has a nagging knee injury.
It’s up to their coaches to keep them motivated and not let the “fighting” eat away at them.
“Yoo Bin-i had an injection after the previous competition in Thailand, and I had a bad knee, so I wasn’t in the best shape,” said Jeon Jeon-hee, adding, “I think injuries were my biggest opponent (in preparation for the World Championships).”먹튀검증
If they keep up the momentum, Korean women’s table tennis could hold the ‘doubles get-out-of-jail-free card’ in Paris.
There are five gold medals up for grabs in Olympic table tennis, including men’s and women’s singles, mixed doubles, and men’s and women’s team events.
Doubles is included in the team event and is played as the first match, so it has a huge impact on the outcome.