Only 19 years old at the time, on Saturday 23rd January 2010, Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu wrote his name into the record books; he beat Sweden’s Jens Lundqvist in the final of the men’s singles event at the ITTF World Tour Slovenian Open in Velenje.
Thus, he became the first ever player required to compete in the preceding qualification tournament, to secure such a title.
He emerged victorious in four games (11-8, 11-7, 11-1, 7-11, 11-3).
A valuable experience and one that eventually witnessed him command a place in the national team, but could the experience of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games prove even more valuable as we look ahead to Tokyo?
Notably, he is not named in the men’s singles event but competes in the men’s team alongside Jang Woojin and Jeoung Youngsik as well as in the mixed doubles, where he partners Jeon Jihee.
In the Brazilian city it was heartache. Commencing play in the third round of the men’s singles event, he experienced defeat by the minimal two point margin in the deciding game when facing Romania’s Adrian Crisan (9-11, 13-11, 5-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6, 13-11).
The result was somewhat an upset, Lee Sangsu was the no.12 seed, Adrian Crisan was not seeded. However, the Romanian did have the benefit of having played two matches. In the opening round he had ousted India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta (11-8, 14-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8), before in round two prevailing in a titanic contest against Frenchman, Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.23 seed (11-4, 4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 12-10).
Later in the proceedings, in the men’s team event, it was the same. Against Brazil in the first round and later in the semi-finals, he only competed in the doubles, partnering Jeoung Youngsik. Facing the South Americans, the duo beat Hugo Calderano and Gustavo Tsuboi (11-5, 11-7, 11-2); confronting the champions elect, it was defeat at the hands of Xu Xin and Zhang Jike (11-8, 12-10, 11-6).
Both overall fixtures were determined by the 3-0 outcome, the former in favour of Korea Republic, the latter the reverse.
Sandwiched in between, at the quarter-final stage it was a 3-1 success in opposition to Sweden. Lee Sangsu partnered Jeoung Youngsik to doubles success when facing Pär Gerell and Mattias Falck (in 2016 known as Mattias Karlsson) but one match earlier had suffered the same pain as in the singles.
He was beaten by Mattias Falck (11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 12-10).
Now, in the men’s team event in Tokyo, could the fact, the only doubles loss in Rio de Janeiro was against the 2015 world champions, prove a vital factor for Korea Republic?
Even more so could the two singles’ losses experienced by Lee Sangsu prove even more pertinent?
Editor: Ian Marshall