Jung Jong-jin (20) and Sung Nak-song (21), who have been playing for 12 and 11 years respectively, are still winning the hearts of keiretsu fans with their rust-free skills and high-quality performances. It’s not uncommon for players to stay in the sport for a long time. However, it is very rare to see players like Jung Jong-jin and Sung Nak-song continue to play at the highest level since their debut.
Chung Jong-jin is 39 years old, which means he is nearing the end of his career, but he is still as good as he was at the beginning of his career.
His 94% win rate last year, second only to his 97% in 2017, is still as good as it was when he won four consecutive Grand Prix titles. Although he has been pushed into second place by Lim Chae-bin, he is still going strong.
Chung Jong-jin has been in the spotlight again lately. It’s because of the content of his matches that suggests a resurgence. As their stature changes and the years pass by, keirin players use tactics that emphasize tricks and techniques over strength. As a result, the proportion of marks and takedowns becomes larger than the proportion of self-powered tactics such as leading and tipping. However, Jong-jin Chung has surprisingly increased the proportion of self-defense at this point. It’s still early in the season, but he has a 50% lead rate and a 17% flip rate. That’s a marked improvement from last year’s 27% leading and 14% rebounding.
It’s pretty much a given that to stay at the top of the game, you need to be able to do at least a little bit of flipping. Many keiretsu stars are self-sufficient when they are on the rise, but once they reach a certain level, they turn into marksmen.
Why does Chung Jong-jin, at the top of his game, play more self-sustaining games when he could easily do so? There are two possible explanations: one is that Jung Jong-jin is still strong and evolving, and the other is a show of force against Lim Chae-bin, whom he will continue to face.
Against Lim Chae-bin, mark-and-trace tactics are not only unlikely to win, but also leave a bad taste in the mouth. Instead, it would be more effective to try to keep the opponent on his toes by going toe-to-toe or covering from behind.
This suggests that the battle between these two opponents is far from over. Of course, Jung Jong-jin has a 1-7 head-to-head record against Lim Chae-bin, but that’s because he’s almost the only horse that Lim has at the moment.
What’s more, the rules have changed this year, and she will have to face Lim in all of her target races. To avoid becoming an irrelevance, Jung Jong-jin needs to have a new weapon. For many keirin fans who don’t want Lim to be a one-woman show, this is a welcome and hopeful step forward, regardless of the outcome.
Unlike Chung Jong-jin, who had to endure a long struggle to reach the top, Sung Nak-song has been a force to be reckoned with since his debut. Sung’s flamboyant skills and last-minute decisions are unrivaled, but he also had the halo and support of team seniors Lee Myung-hyun, Park Byung-ha, Lee Hyun-koo, and Park Yong-beom, who were the reigning champions at the time. The seniors, who were also Grand Prix winners themselves, made him the crown prince of the reigns.
However, with the departure of key players and the aging of team members before and after the corona pandemic, and the arrival of Chung Jong-jin and Lim Chae-bin, it was definitely a different world.
The team had to deal with an unprecedented numerical disadvantage and strong opposition from opposing players. Eventually, when they began to lose the championship once or twice, the players who had been opening up for them coldly turned their backs. After that, not only their physical strength but also their mental strength faltered.
It’s no wonder that they’ve been walking through thorns. As a result, his winning percentage, which averaged 75% before the pandemic, has plummeted to 24% in 22 and 25% in 25.
However, the crowned crown prince is bouncing back with the same determination and focus no matter what opponent he faces. His strategies, tactics, and tireless efforts in every race are a sight to behold and a treat for fans. This is the biggest reason why fans love her so much.
Another unique aspect of the sport is that, despite the inevitability of brawling in the sport, she has never been sanctioned for dropping or disqualifying herself or her opponents. He is a gem of an athlete who manages to keep things exciting but safe.
He’s also showing off a tactic that hasn’t been seen much lately, but was once his trademark. He’s already won fans over with his flawless execution in Grand Prix qualifying, and he showed his best form with a spurt that sent shivers down the spine when he was blocked by Yang Seung-won. There is hope for a resurgence.
“Jung Jong-jin’s attitude and enthusiasm to go further even though he has accomplished everything in the sport is amazing, and Sung Nak-song’s determination to do his best in every match without being pessimistic, even though he is no longer a crown prince, is an inspiration to his fellow players and a good example to the juniors,” said Park Chang-hyun, the publisher of Choi Kang Kyung-ryun, an anticipation magazine.