‘Brilliant light’ 13 years after naturalisation…”I’m so grateful to Shin Yubin. It was my dream to reach the final once.”
“I still can’t believe it, I don’t know what’s going on, it’s like a dream, it’s been my dream to reach the (World Championships) final once. I’m so grateful to my partner (Shin Yubin), and I’m grateful to everyone who helped me play today.”
It’s been 13 years since she moved from China to South Korea to make it big in the national table tennis team. Her stuttering Korean is now somewhat fluent.메이저사이트
Jeon Jeon-hee (31-Mirae Asset Securities), who is not Korean, has been the ace of the Korean women’s table tennis team for many years. After years of hard work, she has finally shone brightly past the age of 30.
On the 26th (local time) at the International Convention Centre (DICC) in Durban, South Africa, the women’s doubles quarter-finals of the 2023 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Championships continued.
Jeon Jeon-hee teamed up with fellow ‘table tennis newcomer’ Shin Yubin (19-Korean Air) to secure at least a silver medal with a 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-6) victory over world number one Sun Yingxia (23)-Wang Manyu (24) of China.
It was a ‘rebellion’ by the world’s 12th-ranked pair that shocked the world’s strongest Chinese table tennis team. Their joy was compounded by the fact that they had beaten an opponent who was seeking a third consecutive world title.
Jeon was born in Langfang City, Hebei Province, China, and represented China at the youth level. For him, it was a long time coming, as he had been waiting for a new start as a table tennis player since his naturalisation in South Korea in 2011. She has faced many setbacks and disappointments along the way. But he never gave up and persevered through the years.
Kim Hyung-seok, the head coach of the Seoul Metropolitan Government (now Hwaseong City Hall) who brought Ji-hee to Korea in 2008, stayed up late to watch the quarter-final and told Sports Seoul, “She hit really well. It was a great achievement after 13 years of naturalisation,” he said.
“Yoo Bin also played table tennis, so I think the chemistry between them was good. It was easier to win than I thought. He completely overpowered Sun Yingxia and Wang Manyu.”
Kim Hyung-seok became the first head coach of the POSCO Energy (now POSCO International) Women’s Table Tennis Team when it was founded in March 2011, and began using Jeon Jeon-hee as an ace by naturalising her. To improve her ranking points and make her a national player, Kim travelled with her to Brazil and other places around the world to participate in open tournaments. “I think we travelled more than five times around the world,” he recalled.
Despite her efforts, Jeon failed to win gold or silver medals at the Asian Games and World Championships, especially in individual events. At the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, she won a bronze medal in mixed doubles with Kim Min-seok. She did not medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
At the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, she won a bronze medal in the women’s singles. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which were postponed by a year, she finished with a bronze medal. At the Houston 2021 World Championships (Individual), she teamed up with Shin Yubin to compete in the women’s doubles, but her dreams of an individual Olympic medal were dashed when Shin withdrew due to injury. In the women’s singles, she was eliminated in the round of 32.
It looked like Jeon’s career was slowly coming to an end. But when her contract with POSCO International expired at the end of last year, she switched to Mirae Asset Securities to try and rebuild her career, and she soared to new heights as she teamed up with Shin Yoo-bin, with whom she had fantastic chemistry, to win a gold medal at the World Championships.
“With Yubin by my side, I’m not afraid to trust my partner and have fun,” said Jeon ahead of the final against China’s world No. 7 Chen Meng (29) and Wang Yidi (26). The match is scheduled for 1:30 a.m. on the 28th.
After reaching the final, he said, “I’ve never been to a stage like this in my life, a final (before)…. I hope that I, Yoo Bin, and all of us will have a great time in table tennis and all of life.”
It will be interesting to see if Jeon Jeon-hee can upset the players from the country of her birth to win her first ever gold medal at the World Championships.