15-year-old defeats table tennis veteran

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15-year-old defeats table tennis veteran

Cho Dae-seong defeated the Korean national men’s table tennis team’s ace player Lee Sang-su 4-3 in the quarterfinals of the 71st National Men and Women’s Table Tennis Championship on Tuesday. Cho is the youngest player to have ever made it to the championship’s semifinals.


Cho Dae-seong [NEWS1]

“That’s something that other players have never achieved,” said Yoo Nam-kyu, gold medalist in men’s singles at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Cho lost 4-0 to Jang Woo-jin, who won the 2013 World Junior Championship, in the semifinals. Jang went on to the men’s singles final, losing 4-2 to Kim Dong-hyun.

The National Men and Women’s Table Tennis Championship is open to all table tennis players, both amateur and professional. The tournament is played according to a randomly assigned bracket, disregarding players’ previous experience. Cho easily cruised through the first three rounds and then defeated Lee Seung-joon 4-3 in the round of 16.

Cho then faced Lee, 27, who was ranked as high as 10th in the world this year. Though there was a huge gap in experience between the two, Cho didn’t show any sign of nerves and defeated Lee, winning the last set 11-5.

“I played hoping to learn, but it led to a better result,” Cho said.

In the tournament, Cho defeated four professional players. Cho started table tennis in first grade, following his uncle who used to be a table tennis player. By sweeping a majority of the junior tournaments in Korea, Cho quickly became a new hope for Korean table tennis. Cho had to take a year off after elbow surgery in 2015, but he made a successful comeback, winning three events at the World Cadet Challenge. This year, Cho continued his stride, making it onto the Korean junior national team.

“[Cho Dae-seong] has great power and control in his forehand drive, which is nothing like the young players,” said Kang Moon-soo, vice president of the Korean Table Tennis Federation. “He also has great endurance. Once he improves his backhand drive and skills, he can become a great player.”

“First, I want to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics,” said Cho.

In addition to Cho, Oh Jun-sung also grabbed attention in the tournament after he advanced to the round of 32. Oh is the youngest son of Oh Sang-eun, a former member of the Korean national table tennis team. Considering Oh Jun-sung is only 11, his performance was impressive, and he defeated high school players. Oh defeated two high school students before losing 3-0 to Park Jung-woo, a professional.

“It’s important for those promising young players to gain more experience through training abroad and international competition,” said Kim Taek-soo, head coach of the Korean national table tennis team.

BY KIM JI-HAN [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]
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