Kim Hyok Bong impressive for DPR Korea
Photo By: An Sung Ho
2012 Olympic Games
The top two seeds in the Men’s Team event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, both secured quarter-final places, following opening round successes on the morning of Saturday 4th August, in a packed to capacity ExCeL Exhibition Centre.
However, both were tested as their adversaries rose to the occasion in an electric atmosphere; no British team of duty, no patriotic support but plenty of support and adulation for the exciting fare on offer.
China, the top seeds and favourites to clinch gold overcame a spirited Russian outfit; whilst Korea survived a tough examination presented by their neighbours, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Both secured hard fought three-one victories.
Stole the Show
The player to steal the show in the Battle of the 39th Parallel was DPR Korea’s Kim Hyok Bong; he displayed both a strong resolute and strong mental approach as he confronted higher rated adversaries.
Beat Higher Ranked Opponents
Currently listed at no.77 on the Men’s World Rankings, he beat Oh Sangeun (world ranked no.11) in the opening match in five games (11-6, 11-8, 12-10), before in the fourth contest of the duel, coming close.
In the match that brought matters to an end, he established a two games to one lead against Ryu Seungmin (world ranked no.17) before the 2004 Athens Olympic Men’s Singles champion hit top gear to record a five games win (5-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3).
Against Oh Sangeun, Kim Hyok Bong trailed in both the second and third games before recovering to secure victory; a very passive Oh Sangeun was below his best but he was only allowed to play as well as Kim Hyok Bong permitted.
However, in opposition to Ryu Seungmin, the player he had partnered to success in the Qatar Peace and Sport Cup some nine months earlier in Doha, it was the positive approach of Ryu Seungmin that brought success.
Ryu Seungmin proved to be the match winner for Korea. One contest earlier he had partnered Oh Sangeun to doubles success over Kim Song Nam and Jang Song Man; the decision of Kim Chol Ung, the DPR Korean coach to partner the attacking skills of Kim Song Nam with the defensive artistry of Jang Song Man being rather forced by Ryu Seungmin.
A more expected doubles pairing may well have been for the two attackers in the team, Kim Hyok Bong and Kim Song Nam to join forces but if that scenario had been enacted, the fourth match would have seen Ryu Seungmin confront Jang Song Man, the defender.
Ryu Seungmin is ruthless against defence; thus the decision not the field Kim Hyok Bong in the doubles. It was perceived he had a better chance against Ryu Seungmin and the ploy nearly worked; Ryu Seungmin needed five games to ensure victory.
Two wins from Ryu Seungmin, the one other success for the victors came from Joo Saehyuk; in the second match of the duel he won the conflict of the defenders. He beat Jang Song Man in three straight games (12-10, 11-3, 12-10); the more secure forehand top spin stroke of Joo Saehyuk when required to attack being the telling factor.
A three-one success for Korea and it was the same result in somewhat different circumstances for China.
In the past, Ma Lin was the man in whom Liu Guoliang clearly placed his trust; he would be the man who would play the crucial matches. Now that role has been handed to Zhang Jike, the man who enjoys the big stage.
Against Russia he beat Kirill Skachkov (11-5, 12-10, 11-7) in the opening contest of the fixture before in the duel that brought matters to a conclusion, defeating Alexey Smirnov (11-8, 11-8, 11-6).
The one further win for China came from Ma Long; he accounted for Alexander Shibaev; whilst for Russia, Kirill Skachkov and Alexey Smirnov caused an upset.
They beat Ma Long and Wang Hao in the doubles contest in five games (11-8, 7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6).
Success for the top two seeds and there were success for the third and fifth seeded teams.
Japan, the no.3 seeds, beat Canada; Singapore, the no.5 seeds, defeated Australia.
Jun Mizutani gave Japan the perfect start against Canada by beating André Ho (11-6, 11-3, 11-5), Koki Niwa followed suit by overcoming Eugene Wang (11-6, 12-10, 11-9), with the doubles combination of Seiya Kishikawa and Koki Niwa ending matters.
They defeated Pierre-Luc Hinse and André Ho in three straight games (11-7, 11-4, 11-6).
A comprehensive win for Japan and it was the same for Singapore against Australia.
Victory for Singapore
Gao Ning beat Justin Han (11-5, 11-8, 11-5), Zhan Jian defeated William Henzell (11-8, 11-3, 11-9), with a doubles success recorded by Yang Zi and Zhan Jian over Robbie Frank and Justin Han (11-4, 11-4, 8-11, 11-5) concluding matters.
At the quarter-final stage; in the top half of the draw China meets Singapore with Austria confronting Germany; in the lower half Japan faces Hong Kong and Korea opposes Portugal.
The matches will be played on Sunday 5th August 2012.