The top of the Great Wall, once thought to be insurmountable, is now within reach. The Korean table tennis team is one step closer to reaching the summit of the wall that China, the world’s most powerful country in table tennis, has repeatedly challenged but never managed to overcome.
Korean table tennis has reached the World Championship finals in both the men’s and women’s doubles. Jang Woo-jin (28, Mirae Asset Securities) and Lim Jong-hoon (26, Korea Exchange) defeated Germany’s Dmitry Ovcharov-Patrik Franziska 3-2 (11-7 5-11 8-11 11-9 11-5) in the men’s doubles semifinals at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Championships 2023 in Durban, South Africa, on Saturday.
In the next women’s doubles semifinal, Shin Yubin (19, Korean Air)-Jeon Jeon Hee (31, Mirae Asset Securities) swept aside “World No. 1” Sun Yingxia-Wang Man Yu (China) 3-0 (11-7 11-9 11-6).
Having already secured the bronze medal by reaching the quarterfinals, they changed the color of their medals to silver. The Korean men’s and women’s doubles teams, who booked the silver medal, took the opportunity to change their medal color to gold.
Jang Woo-jin roars after scoring a point in the men’s doubles semifinal at the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships 2023 ⓒKorea Table Tennis Association
In the men’s doubles final, Jang Woo-jin and Lim Jong-hoon will face the ‘world’s strongest’ pair of Fan Zhendong and Wang Chu-chin. World No. 1 Pan Zhendong-Wang Chuqin defeated Lee Sang-soo (33) and Cho Dae-sung (21, Samsung Life Insurance) 3-1 (7-11 11-3 11-5 12-10) in the semifinals.
With the exception of Fan Zhendong-Wang Chuqin, the Chinese pairs lost in straight sets to Sweden’s Matthias Falk-Christian Karlsson in the quarterfinals and semifinals. For China’s men’s doubles “last man standing,” Fan Zhendong-Wang Chuqin, pride is at stake in this final.
Zhang Wujin and Lim Jonghun won the silver medal at the World Championships in Houston, Texas, two years ago. They have reached the final of the World Championships for the second consecutive time and will be looking to win their first title.
In particular, Zhang Wujin and Lim Jonghun had never met the Chinese players before the final, but they will have to cross the Great Wall of China to stand atop the podium.
Lim Jong-hoon (right) and Jang Woo-jin celebrate after scoring a point in the men’s doubles semifinal match at the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships 2023 ⓒKorea Table Tennis Federation
After qualifying for the final, Jang Woo-jin and Lim Jong-hoon told the Korea Times, “It was a very difficult match. But we overcame the hump by trusting and relying on each other,” said Jang. “It means a lot to be in the finals twice in a row,” they added, showing토토사이트 their determination.
Korea Table Tennis has yet to win a World Championship gold medal in men’s doubles. They have won gold in the women’s singles, doubles and mixed doubles, but have yet to reach the top of the podium in men’s doubles.
“I really want to win a gold medal,” said Lim Jong-hoon ahead of the final, “to make up for last year’s disappointment. Jang Woo-jin said, “This time, I will not play ‘live and let live’ but ‘die’ to get a gold medal. I will not only do my best, but also produce results,” he said.
Shin Yubin (front) and Jeon Jeon-hee celebrate after qualifying for the women’s doubles final at the 2023 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships ⓒKorea Table Tennis Association
The women’s doubles team of Shin Yoo-bin and Jeon Jeon-hee pulled off the ‘Durban Miracle’. They swept aside Sun Yingxia and Wang Manyu, who were expected to be difficult to beat, 3-0. Their bold approach of attacking instead of focusing on defense led to the best results.
Shin Yubin and Jeon Jeon-hee overcame the biggest mountain in their quest for a gold medal. In the final, they will meet world number seven Wang Yidi and Chen Meng (China). Although they are ranked seventh, there is not much difference between the two Chinese players, who dominate the world rankings. Chen Meng, in particular, has been on an upward trajectory, reaching the women’s singles quarterfinals at this event.
Shin Yubin (left) and Jeon Jeon-hee celebrate after qualifying for the women’s doubles final at the 2023 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships ⓒKorea Table Tennis Association
Shin Yubin and Jeon Jeon-hee became the first women’s doubles team to reach the World Championships final in 36 years since Hyun Jung-hwa and Yang Young-ja in 1987. They also reached the women’s individual final at the World Championships for the first time in 30 years. Shin Yoo-bin and Jeon Jeon-hee are aiming to make “new history” after Hyun Jung-hwa won the women’s singles title in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1993.
“It’s my last match, so I want to play with my sister without any regrets,” said Shin Yubin. “I think so too,” echoed Jeon Jeon-hee.
The men’s doubles final will take place on July 27 at 9:30 p.m. KST. The women’s doubles final will start around 1:30 a.m. on the 28th.
Meanwhile, TV channels SPOTV, SPOTV ON and sports OTT service SPOTV NOW will broadcast the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Men’s and Women’s Doubles Finals live via satellite. The event will also be broadcast live on SPOTV ASIA. SPOTV Asia is available in 13 countries across Southeast Asia and offers a wide range of content including tennis Grand Slam events Wimbledon and the US Open, men’s professional tennis ATP Tour, motorcycle racing event MotoGP, World Table Tennis (WTT) table tennis events, BWF badminton events and the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) Sport Climbing World Cup.