ITTF World Tour Pyongyang Open
Sunday 3rd July
Kang Wi Hun Secures Men’s Singles Title
Alongside Pak Sin Hyok and Choe Il; on duty in every contest encountered by DPR Korea at the Perfect 2016 World Championships staged in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year, Kang Wi Hun excelled the achievements of his compatriots at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Pyongyang Open
The 26 year old won the Men’s Singles title on Sunday 3rd July; notably securing the top prize without being extended the full seven games distance on the concluding day of play.
At the semi-final stage of proceedings he accounted for colleague, 24 year old Ro Kwang Jin (11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4), the first round winner over Pak Sin Hyok, the highest rated player in the tournament and the runner up one year ago (8-11, 14-12, 9-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7).
Success in five games at the penultimate stage; in the final it was success in one game more; he accounted for China’s Xu Xingbin in six games (11-7, 8-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6).
Defeat for Xu Yingbin but it was his first international appearance of note and he may well be a name of which we will hear again and again. He is only 15 years old.
Earlier, at the semi-final stage, Xu Yingbin had accounted for colleague Zhao Zhaoyan (11-9, 4-11, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-3), the player who had beaten last year’s winner, Choe Il, the second highest rated on duty, at the quarter-final stage (11-6, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9).
Furthermore, Zhao Zhaoyan was the player who had given Kang Wi Hun the most problems in the whole tournament.
On the opening day of play, the very first match of the tournament for both players, in the group stage of proceedings Kang Wi Han had been extended the full seven games distance by Zhao Zhaoyan. He only emerged successful by the minimal two point margin in the deciding seventh games (11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9).
<font color="800000"><b> Second Ever from DPR Korea </font></b>
Victory on home soil means that Kwang Wi Hun becomes the second player from DPR Korea to win an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title and the third to reach a final.
The only other occasion of players from DPR Korea reaching an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles final is last year when Choe Il beat Pak Sin Hyok.
Kwang Wi Hun is the 93rd player to win an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title.
Kim Song I Becomes Nation’s Most Successful
Quarter-finalist at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, the host nation’s Kim Song I won the Women’s Singles title at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Pyongyang Open on Sunday 3rd July.
The second seed, she upset the odds, staved off strong Chinese opposition and secured the title the hard way; on the concluding day of play she emerged successful in two hard fought seven games duels.
At the semi-final stage she accounted for China’s Fan Siqi by the very narrowest of margins (11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 4-11, 8-11, 6-11, 11-9), before overcoming colleague and top seed, Ri Myong Sun in the final (11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 4-11, 8-11, 6-11, 11-9).
In the counterpart semi-final, likewise Ri Myong Sun had ended Chinese hopes; she had beaten Guo Yuhan (11-6, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9).
Success for Kim Song I and it was very much a reversal of fortunes when compared with one year earlier; at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Pyongyang Open, she had been beaten at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event by China’s Sun Chen.
Just as today, she had succeeded in close hard fought seven games duels, just under one year ago, on Saturday 1st August, she had experienced defeat in very similar circumstances. She was beaten in seven games (9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 2-11, 7-11, 11-8).
Success for Kim Song I means she is the most successful player ever from DPR Korea on the ITTF World Tour.
In 2012 in Helsingborg she won the Women’s Singles title at the Swedish Open; whilst earlier in the day in partnership with Ri Myong Sun, she secured the Women’s Doubles crown and thus retained the title won one year earlier.
She now owns four ITTF World Tour titles; alongside her doubles partner, Ri Myong Sun, the only other player from DPR Korea to succeed on two occasions is Kim Hyon Hui.
In 2001 she beat Croatia’s Tamara Boros in the final of the Women’s Singles event in Qatar, having earlier in the year enjoyed success in England.
She won the Women’s Doubles title in partnership with Kim Hyang Mi, the pair beating the Japanese duo of Miyuki Nishii and Yuka Nishii in the final, before experiencing defeat at the hands of Yoshie Takada, also from Japan, in the Women’s Singles title deciding contest.
Kim Song I and Kim Hyon Hui are the only players from DPR Korea to have won an ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles event.
Improvement on Previous Year
Present one year ago in the capital city of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea but no medals to show for his efforts, one year later, at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Pyongyang Open it was better news for China’ Cao Wei.
In 2015 partnering Ji Jiale, it had been a quarter-final defeat in five games at the hands of the host nation’s An Ji Song and Ro Hyon Song (14-12, 11-3, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6); one year later on Sunday 3rd July it was success in harness with Xu Yingbin.
At the final hurdle, in an all Chinese confrontation, the duo accounted for Yang Shuo and Zhao Zhaoyan in four games (4-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9).
A first appearance for all four players in an ITTF World Tour final, the success adding to the quite staggering run of success enjoyed by China; notably it was the 60th time in the history of the ITTF World Tour that a Men’s Doubles final had been an all Chinese affair.
Furthermore, it was the 123 time that a Chinese player had emerged successful in an ITTF World Tour Men’s Doubles final and the 118th time it had been an all Chinese partnership.
Kim Song I and Ri Myong Sun Anointed Champions
Textbook defensive skills on view, defending champions, the host nation’s Kim Song I and Ri Myong Sun, won the Women’s Doubles title at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Pyongyang Open on Sunday 3rd July.
Once again an all DPR Korean final was on view with Kim Song I and Ri Myong Sun accounting for Kim Hye Song and Ri Mi Gyong in three straight games (11-9, 11-8, 12-10); the contest a repeat of the final just under one year ago.
A repeat of last year’s title deciding contest but it was a more convincing outcome.
Just under one year ago on Sunday 2nd August, at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Pyongyang Open, Kim Song I and Ri Myong Sun had beaten Kim Hye Song and Ri Mi Gyong in a hard fought full distance five games encounter to secure the top prize (13-11, 8-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-8).
Success for Kim Song I and Ri Myong Sun meant that for the third time in the history of the ITTF World Tour, the top prize in a Women’s Doubles event was in the hands of a DPR Korean partnership.
The one previous occasion was in 2001 at the English Open, staged in Chatham, a town situated on the River Medway in the south east of the country.
On that occasion, Kim Hyang Mi, who later was to be the silver medallist in the Women’s Singles event at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, partnered Kim Hyon Hui to success. They beat Japan’s Miyuki Nishi and Yuka Nishii to claim the title.