Table tennis legend joins international federation

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Table tennis legend joins international federation

The 2004 Olympic men’s table tennis champion Ryu Seung-min has been elected to the executive committee of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

Ryu was voted unanimously to the key decision-making body of the sport’s global governing body in its Annual General Meeting in Budapest on Monday, on the sidelines of the world championships in the Hungarian capital.

Ryu, also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), was nominated for a seat at the executive committee during the ITTF Grand Finals in Incheon, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Seoul, last December, before earning the final approval in Budapest. Ryu’s term as the 11th member of the committee runs through 2024.

Ryu, 36, is the first South Korean to be elected to the ITTF’s executive committee since Han Sang-kook in 2008.

“I am looking forward to serving as the bridge between the ITTF and the Korea Table Tennis Association,” Ryu said. “I think there will be so much more I can do to help Korean table tennis.”

Ryu said his election carries extra significance, with the South Korean city of Busan scheduled to host next year’s ITTF world championships.

Ryu added he will try to bring South Korea and North Korea together at next year’s world championships.

“It’ll mean a great deal to have the unified Korean team at the world championships in South Korea,” Ryu said. “I’ve been speaking to the ITTF about this and ITTF President Thomas Weikert said he’d cooperate.”

Ryu said as a table tennis administrator, his ultimate goal is to become the president of the ITTF.

“I used to think it’d be difficult to do it,” Ryu said. “But now that I’ve become an IOC member and also made the executive committee at the ITTF, I am more confident I can do it.”

Ryu said he was inspired by Cho Yang-ho, the late Hanjin Group chairman who also served as KTTA president, to dream bigger.

“When I was about to retire from table tennis, Cho offered me a lot of support, so I could become an IOC member,” Ryu said.

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