“We have the biggest medal potential in the mixed doubles event, so I feel a sense of responsibility.”

World No. 13 Jang Woo-jin is the ace of South Korea’s men’s table tennis team, which will be looking to win its first Olympic medal in 12 years at the Paris 2024 Games.

However, if you were to name the most important player on the team, you wouldn’t be wrong if you said Lim Jong-hoon (Korea Exchange), not Jang Woo-jin.

The best-case scenario for the table tennis team is to win three medals in the men’s and women’s team events and mixed doubles.

Lim will compete in the mixed doubles with Shin Yubin (Korean Air).

The team competition is also important. He and Jang Woo-jin have been the men’s team’s “two-headed wagon,” and they will need to play their roles in singles and doubles to increase their chances of winning a medal.

“I think my task is the most important part of the national team for this Games,” Lim said with a solemn expression as he met with reporters at the Jincheon Athletes’ Village in Chungcheongbuk-do on the 26th, the opening D-30 media day of the Paris Olympics.

Jang Woo-jin is his senior and Shin Yubin is his junior. Compared to his two partners, Lim is a more cheerful personality, and he is the one who can lighten the mood when things aren’t going well.

“If my partner is tired, I make him laugh,” he says, “and if he’s nervous, I talk to him calmly.” “I’m not a nervous person,” he says.

Lim Jong-hoon plays his table tennis no matter how strong his opponent is. That’s how he’s managed to pull off unexpected victories against top-ranked opponents.

Although this is his first time competing in the Olympics, Lim is no stranger to major tournaments.

He has competed in two Asian Games, winning silver in the team event in Jakarta-Palembang in 2018 and bronze in the mixed doubles event in Hangzhou last year, along with two silver medals in the team and men’s doubles.

At the World Championships, he won silver with Jang Woo-jin in Houston in 2021 and Durban in 2023, and bronze in the team event at the World Championships in Busan earlier this year.

“Although we haven’t won a gold medal in the past, we have achieved our goal of ‘not losing to non-Chinese players,'” Lim said, adding, “We will try to achieve our goal again against strong European players at this Olympics and enjoy the joy of winning a medal.”

In the team competition, the prevailing view is that the Chinese will have to beat the Europeans, especially Germany, to get into the medal round.

The Germans, with ace Dmitry Ovcharov and Chinese-born Tang Qiu in the lineup, will have a “last dance” with 43-year-old veteran Timo Ball in place of Patrik Fraschka.

Some analysts believe Ball will be easier to deal with than Francisca, who has struggled on the Olympic stage in the past.

However, Lim remains wary, saying, “I think Ball is a more difficult opponent than Franziska, especially since she is stronger in doubles.”

Lim and Shin are in fierce competition with Japan’s Hina Hayata and Tomokazu Harimoto.

Currently, Lim and Shin are ranked second in the mixed doubles rankings, while Hayata and Harimoto are third.

They will have to work hard to maintain their ranking until the very end as they need to stay in second place to avoid China in the semifinals.

The winner of the second spot will be decided at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Championships in Bangkok next month from January 1-8.

“More than just defending the second place, I want to win against the Japanese group,” said Lim, adding, “We might meet them at the Olympics. I want to take this opportunity to break their momentum,” said Lim. 사설토토

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