Shin Yubin (Korean Air) fell just short of his first medal at the World Table Tennis Championships. The Korean teamed up with Lim Jong-hoon (KEX) 먹튀검증 in the mixed doubles event, but were unable to get over the hump against South Korea and Japan.
Shin Yubin and Lim Jong-hoon lost 0-3 (8-11 5-11 6-11) to Japan’s Hina Hayata and Tomokazu Harimoto in the mixed doubles quarterfinals at the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships 2023 in Durban, South Africa, on Thursday.
With the loss, Korea lost both pairs in the mixed doubles event, which was considered a strategic event at the tournament.
Earlier, Kim Na-young (POSCO International) and Cho Dae-sung (Samsung Life) also lost 0-3 (11-13 5-11 6-11) in the round of 16 to the Chinese pair of Kwai Man and Lin Shidong, the next generation of Chinese aces.
Shin Yubin and Lim Jong-hoon have been highly touted on the World Table Tennis (WTT) stage, winning a gold medal together last year and two silvers this year.
The pair continued their unbeaten streak at the tournament, reaching the quarterfinals.
But the bar was high for Hayata and Harimoto. Hayata, along with Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist Mima Ito, is one of the “two-headed horse” of Japanese women’s table tennis. Harimoto is also recognized as the “super ace” of Japanese men’s table tennis.
Hayata and Harimoto won a silver medal together in the mixed doubles event at the 2021 World Championships in Houston.
“It was disappointing to play against Harimoto-Hayata for the first time and not see much of what we had prepared for,” said Shin Yubin, “but regrets don’t change anything, so we will focus more on our upcoming matches.”
Shin Yubin and Lim Jong-hoon will now compete in the men’s and women’s singles and the main event for the remainder of the medal hunt.
Shin, ranked 26th, will play Giannan Yuan (18th-France) in the women’s singles round of 32, while Lim, ranked 11th, will take on Lubomir Piste (86th-Slovakia) in the men’s singles round of 32.
‘Veteran’ Seo Hyo-won (108th-Korea Horse Society) became the first Korean player to reach the round of 16 in the women’s singles with a 4-2 (11-9 11-3 11-6 10-12 11-13 11-6) victory over Adina Diakonu (59th-Romania). Seo will play Korea-Japan in the round of 16. She will face the winner of the Hayata Hina (No. 10)-Nagasaki Miyu (No. 29-overall Japan) match.
“The Japanese players are not easy, but I will use all my skills and everything I have,” Seo said, adding, “This could be my last World Championship challenge, so I will do my best.”
In the men’s doubles, Lee Sang-soo (Samsung Life) and Cho Dae-sung (11th) defeated Ovidiu Ionescu (Romania)-Alvaro Robles (Spain) 3-1 (13-11 16-18 11-9 11-7) to advance to the quarterfinals.
Lee and Cho will play the semifinals against Christian Karlsson-Matthias Falk (No. 7-Sweden), who won gold at the 2021 event.