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Table tennis player shaves head to show determination for Asian Games

All Headlines 16:08 August 08, 2018

JINCHEON, South Korea, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- With his head nearly shaved and working with a baseball bat, South Korean table tennis player Jeoung Young-sik cut an interesting figure during his practice on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old, once an owner of a full head of thick hair, said he decided to cut his hair short to show his determination for the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia. It is almost a cliche in South Korean sports -- many athletes or even coaches before Jeoung have shaved their heads for similar reasons -- but Jeoung is willing to try anything.

South Korean table tennis player Jeoung Young-sik poses for a picture while icing down his right shoulder at the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, on Aug. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

"I've shaven my head before in high school, but this is the first time I've done it as a national team player before an international competition," Jeoung said at the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul.

"I've been in plenty of tournaments, but no matter how hard I work, I haven't had much luck winning gold medals," Jeoung added. "As important as the process is, I want to get the result. Whether it's the singles or the team event, I'd love to be on the top of the podium."

Jeoung made his Asian Games debut in 2010 as an 18-year-old, and won a team silver and a doubles bronze. He failed to qualify for the 2014 Asian Games but is now back in the mix.

In between, Jeoung also competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics but came home empty-handed. South Korea lost to Germany in the men's team bronze medal match and Jeoung was eliminated in the fourth round in the men's singles.

Over his career, Jeoung has won six bronze medals at the world championships, and one silver and two bronze medals at the Asian Championships.

Hoping to end a personal gold drought, Jeoung picked up a baseball bat so that he could strengthen his wrist.

South Korean table tennis player Jeoung Young-sik works with a baseball bat to strengthen his wrist at the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, on Aug. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

"I tend to use my wrist on drives and smashes more than other players, and I used to train with rubber bands or rubber balls," Jeoung said. "I've since switched to a bat weighing about 900 grams. It's helped me a great deal."

Jeoung's teammates have been teasing him for his new looks, and even his head coach, Kim Taek-soo, quipped that the first time he saw Jeoung with the cropped hair, he thought a Buddhist monk had walked in.

But nothing bothers Jeoung.

"I cut my hair because I wanted to, and so I am not embarrassed about this," Jeoung said. "If my hair grows too long before we leave for Indonesia, then I may give it another shave."

The opening ceremony is Aug. 18 in Jakarta, and table tennis starts on Aug. 26.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)

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