“I’ll come back with the gold medal.”
The South Korean men’s basketball team, led by head coach Chu Il-seung, will depart Incheon International Airport on Wednesday for Hangzhou, China. Their goal ahead of the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games is to win their first gold medal in 41 years, since 1982. They know it’s going to be tough, but the goal is clear.
Jeon Seong-hyun, the “Flame Shooter,” will be competing in his first Asian Games and is a key to South Korea’s chances of winning gold. Recall that when South Korea won gold at the 2002 and 2014 Asian Games, they did so with some of the best shooters in Asia, including Moon Mung-eun and Moon Tae-jong, so you can see how important Jeon is.
In a phone interview with MK Sports, Jeon said, “It wasn’t easy to prepare. There weren’t many days when all 12 of us got together and trained. It was a time of recovery after a long season, so it was not easy to manage our physical condition and injuries. We had a lot of injuries, big and small, and substitutions. It wasn’t easy to train five-on-five,” he said.
“But I think all the players will be able to play when we go to Hangzhou. I’ve also been feeling unwell lately, so I took a week off, but I’m getting better,” he said. “We have an important game coming up, so I’m hoping to forget about the difficulties and achieve my goal.”
Jeon Sung-hyun’s wife, his “better half,” will also be at the Asian Games. She’s not traveling with the team. She’s traveling to the local area to support her husband. Coincidentally, one of the venues where South Korea is competing, Zhejiang University, is his wife’s alma mater.
“My wife is coming to Hangzhou. Sometimes we play at Zhejiang University’s Zhejiang Gymnasium, which happens to be her alma mater. She says she knows the place well, so she comes to meet her friends and cheer them on,” he laughs.
Keep a cool head. Forgetting what’s going on inside the team and looking outward, there aren’t many opportunities to win gold at the Asian Games. Most of South Korea’s gold medal contenders are either weakened or have internal issues. Only host China, Jordan with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and the Philippines with two naturalized athletes are in the mix. With China rocked by internal discord, South Korea has the potential to win a gold medal as long as they don’t falter themselves. Of course, it’s bittersweet and unfortunate that the team is struggling with injuries and nagging injuries to key players 토토사이트.
Jeon knows this, too. “I’m very aware of the people around me saying that I have a chance to bring home a gold medal. Honestly, I’m looking forward to it. However, with the departure of (Moon) Sung-gon and (Song) Kyo-chang, who were the core of the forward line, the pressure on (Yang) Hong-seok has increased. (Moon) Jeong-hyun is there, but he can’t put much pressure on the younger guy. That’s why I’m both excited and worried. They say other teams are weaker, but we’re also struggling…. (Kim) Sun-hyung said that his older brother never failed to bring home a medal when he went to the Asian Games, so I’ll believe him (laughs).”
The South Korean team hasn’t had the same support as China, Japan, and the Middle Eastern nations. Aside from two exhibition games against Japan in July, there have been no additional exhibition games scheduled. The reality is that the support environment was far too poor for their efforts.
Unlike in the past, this Asian Games was a lonely preparation. There were a lot of wounds and pain during the preparation period. The assessment that it is the right time for a gold medal is not wrong, but considering the poor support, it is difficult to force a ‘gold medal’. It is right to hope that she will come back healthy and uninjured.
“Honestly, I want to bring home a gold medal, or a medal of any color. I’m greedy,” he said. Of course, I hope it’s gold,” he said, adding, “No one knows what will happen. I will do my best to bring home a gold medal,” he vowed.