“Korea gave me a second life in table tennis.”
When every Korean table tennis player is grateful to Chinese naturalised player Zhen Zhenhee (30-Mirae Asset Securities), she is grateful to Korea.
Paired with Shin Yoo-bin (Korean Air), Jeon won the gold medal in the women’s doubles final of the table tennis event at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games on Sunday, beating North Korea’s Cha Sooyoung and Park Su-kyong 4-1.
It was the first gold medal for Korean table tennis at the Asian Games in 21 years.
Jeon Jeon-hee played in China before moving to South Korea in 2008 and naturalising in 2011.
For more than a decade, she has been the ‘ace’ of South Korean women’s table tennis, and today she won her first gold medal at an international event.
At the post-match press conference, Jeon sobbed, saying, “In China, my level dropped and I couldn’t get to a higher position, but Korea gave me a chance to play table tennis again and I was able to start a second life.”
Jeon has been struggling with a nagging knee injury since last year, and despite this, she and Shin Yubin won a silver medal in the women’s doubles at the Durban 2023 World Championships, and now a gold.
“I wasn’t feeling well from last year, and there were a lot of things going on,” said Jeon. I had a bad start to the year. I even felt sorry for (Shin) Yoo Binh-yi because I had to return home after the tournament in Thailand,” she confessed.
“After the World Championships, I thought, ‘Let’s do it again,’ and I finished so well. After that, my condition gradually returned,” he said, adding, “It was difficult to get into the bracket for this tournament, but I overcame Thai and North Korean players to get here. I am grateful.”
At the press conference and in the joint press area (mix zone), Jeon mentioned ‘Yoo Bin Yi’ frequently.
For her, Shin Yubin is a comrade and “guinea pig” who appeared in the twilight of her athletic career and harvested gold together.
“I’m so happy and grateful to her,” Jeon said.
When asked at the press conference how she felt when Shin thanked her, she said, “It’s hard to put into words.”
Jeon Jeon-hee and Shin Yubin will now take on the challenge of the Paris 2024 Olympics.
This time, they were lucky enough not to face the Chinese pair in the women’s doubles.
They will likely face a much tougher challenge in Paris.
“I think I have an advantage (to win a medal in Paris) because Yubin is rising a lot,” said Jeon, adding, “I need to improve my ranking and manage my injuries. I want to go to the Olympics with Yoo Binyi one more time and win a medal.” 스포츠토토