S. Korean TT teams return home with bronze medals

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Seoul, May 8 (IANS) South Korea’s men’s and women’s table tennis teams returned home on Tuesday after picking up bronze medals at the world championships in Sweden.

Though both teams had podium finishes, the women’s side made headlines last week at the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Halmstad, Sweden, where the South Koreans teamed up with North Koreans for their first ping pong joint squad in 27 years, reports Yonhap news agency.

The Koreas were set to square off in the quarter-finals last Thursday but they decided to join forces only hours before their showdown. They advanced to the semi-finals as one team but lost to Japan to take the bronze.

It was South Korea’s first world team bronze since 2012 and North Korea’s second consecutive bronze.

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The joint Korean effort came just a week after the inter-Korean summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The two discussed expanding sporting exchanges between the Koreas.

South Korea is hoping to field a joint Korean team at the Asian Games in Indonesia starting on August 18. It has made a proposal for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) to review.

South Korea wants to ensure both Koreas will retain their allotted roster spots — two players each in the men’s and women’s singles, two teams each in the mixed doubles and five players in the team event — even if they combine their squads.

At the world championships, all five South Koreans and four North Koreans were allowed to stay on the roster, and all nine players received bronze medals.

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The men’s team picked up their second consecutive world championships bronze after losing to Germany 3-2 in the semifinals.

–IANS

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