Para weightlifter Park Jae-hyun (Sport Class 5 – Korea Para Sports Federation) came up short against an opponent who is also a Para table tennis player.
Park lost 2-3 (8-11 6-11 11-9 13-11 6-11) to Chinese Taipei’s Chung Ming-zu in the quarterfinals of the men’s singles table tennis event at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Gungshu Canal Sports Park Gymnasium in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China on Thursday.
Park Jae-hyun reached the quarterfinals with a 2-1 record in Group D of the preliminary round, but fell to Chung Ming-zu.
Park was on the verge of defeat when he dropped the first and second sets, but bounced back to take the third and fourth sets in straight sets.
In the fifth set, he tried to make a comeback, but made a series of unforced errors.
In his post-match interview, Park said, “I lost the first and second sets. I kept up well, but in the fifth set, I made too many silly mistakes.”
Zheng Mingzhi, who was defeated by Park Jae-hyun on the day, was already a table tennis player before getting into a wheelchair.
Park’s disappointment was compounded by the fact that he had beaten Zheng Mingshu 3-0 at the 2022 Finland Open in September last year.
“I think my opponent has been grinding his teeth. I think he analyzed me thoroughly,” Park said with a bitter smile.
“I should have been more prepared,” said Park, who has never competed in the Paralympic Games or the Asian Para Games, “but I think I was a little more relaxed because I thought it was a regular international competition.
Park, who started weightlifting in elementary school, became wheelchair-bound in his second year of middle school after an accident in which he missed a barbell during training.
A “top-ranked weightlifter” who was hospitalized, Park was recommended by a Gwangju Paralympic Committee staff member to attend the Korean Paralympic Committee’s Rookie Athlete Camp and picked up a table tennis stick as a high school freshman.
“I was torn between archery and table tennis,” he says, laughing, “Archery requires you to play hot or cold, but table tennis is an indoor sport like weightlifting, so I chose table tennis.”
As a weightlifter, Park’s arms were covered with muscles.
As a table tennis player, his strength comes from his thick muscles and strong smashes.
“I don’t think I’m any weaker than anyone else,” Park said confidently, “and if the ball comes at my beat, I can smash it with more power than anyone else.”
“I also have the ability to send the ball to all corners and make it difficult for the opponent,” he said.
On the downside, he cited his lack of endurance.
“There are parts of the game or practice where my strength runs out after a long time,” Park said, “so I try to improve it as much as possible by weight training or taking lessons with my coaches.”
Park is also one of the most diligent players in the game.
“I’m short and have short arms,” he said, “so I have to move twice as much to reach the distance that other players can reach if they move a little bit.” He is determined to move his wheelchair even more.
Park will try again for a medal in the men’s doubles, where he is paired with Baek Young-bok (Class 3 – Jangsu Military Para Athletic Association). 스포츠토토