Halmstad (Sweden), May 4 (IANS) The joint Korean women’s table tennis team won the bronze medal at the World Team Table Tennis Championships at Halmstad Arena here on Friday.
The combined squad of South Korea and North Korea lost to Japan 0-3 in the semi-finals. There is no third-place match, and Korea will share the bronze with the loser of the other semi-final match between China and Hong Kong, reports Yonhap news agency.
Team matches consist of five singles matches in a best-of-five format, with the first team to win three matches becoming the winner.
The Koreas played as one in table tennis for the first time since the 1991 world championships in Chiba, Japan, where the women’s team, led by South Korean Olympic champion Hyun Jung-hwa and North Korean star Li Bun-hui, won the gold medal over the heavily favoured China.
The Korean teams were only brought together in Sweden on Thursday, hours before they were scheduled to square off in the quarter-finals. With the blessing of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the Koreas advanced to the semi-finals as one team.
The two sides agreed not to cut any of the five South Korean and four North Korean players for the semi-finals. The South Korean players are: Jeon Ji-hee, Kim Ji-ho, Suh Hyo-won, Yang Ha-eun and Yoo Eun-chong. The North Koreans are Cha Hyo-sim, Choe Hyon-hwa, Kim Nam-hae and Kim Song-i.
Only three could actually play in the semi-finals, and Korea sent out Yang (world No. 27), Jeon (No. 35) and Kim (No. 49), leaving Suh, the highest-ranked player at No. 12, on the bench.
The trio proved to be no match against Japan, who fielded three top-10 players: Kasumi Ishikawa (world No. 3), Miu Hirano (No. 6) and Mima Ito (No. 7).
Japan is the second-ranked women’s team in the world behind only China. South Korea is No. 5 and North Korea is No. 22 on the women’s team rankings.