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(Asiad) With help from best friend, tennis player ready to bring home doubles gold

11:07 September 20, 2023

By Yoo Jee-ho

INCHEON, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- He may not be 100 percent back from a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for six months earlier this year, but South Korean tennis player Kwon Soon-woo still sees himself as a gold medal contender in the men's doubles at the Asian Games in China this fall.

With his best friend in tennis, Hong Seong-chan, by his side, Kwon believes he can do anything in Hangzhou.

"We've talked a lot about competing with a sense of urgency. We're really motivated for this competition," Kwon told reporters Wednesday at Incheon International Airport before departing for the Chinese host city of the 19th Asian Games. "Our expectation is we will be bringing home the gold medal in the doubles."

South Korean tennis player Kwon Soon-woo speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, before departing for Hangzhou, China, for the Asian Games on Sept. 20, 2023. (Yonhap)

Kwon and Hong will also be playing in the singles, and will have to deal with a tight schedule that could see them play two matches in one day.

But Kwon, a veteran of several Grand Slam tournaments where singles matches can go a full five sets, said he is used to the grind.

"I know China will have some strong players, but you never know how the competition will play out," Kwon said. "I'll go out there and lose myself in the heat of the competition."

Kwon and Hong both competed for South Korea at the Davis Cup earlier this month. Though South Korea lost to Serbia and Spain, Kwon said playing in the event was good prep work for the Asian Games.

"We are just coming off an international tournament, and I think we'll be able to stay sharp for the Asian Games," Kwon said. "The results at the Davis Cup were disappointing, but our main focus has been on the Asian Games. The Davis Cup helped us get into better match form, and it was a good learning experience for all of us."

In shooting, rifle shooter Lee Eun-seo said she, too, is ready to take aim at gold. She will compete in the women's 50-meter rifle 3 positions and 10-meter air rifle events.

South Korean shooter Lee Eun-seo speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, before departing for Hangzhou, China, for the Asian Games on Sept. 20, 2023. (Yonhap)

Lee said she also hopes to provide a turning point for South Korean shooting, with the national team program having hit a rough patch of late.

At the 2018 Asiad, South Korea won three gold medals, down from eight in 2014 and 13 in 2010. At this year's world championships, South Korea failed to grab any gold, instead settling for three silvers and four bronzes. China and India, two Asian powers in shooting, won 15 and six gold medals each.

"We used to win a lot more medals in shooting, but I know we've fallen short of expectations in the last few years," Lee said. "Hopefully, we will grab a lot more medals this time and get back to our winning ways."

While some other South Korean shooters have voiced concerns about noise from the partisan Chinese crowd, Lee said she has not altered her routine.

"I don't usually pay much mind to those issues," Lee said. "I've been training the way I normally do. I'd love to bring home a gold medal, but even if I don't win it, I want to compete to the best of my abilities."



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