The South Korean baseball team has returned home after winning four consecutive gold medals at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.
The South Korean baseball team, led by coach Ryu Jung-il, returned home via Incheon Airport on Monday afternoon.
The men’s soccer team, which won its third consecutive Asian Games title, returned on the same flight, and fans gathered to watch the baseball and soccer teams.
The baseball team won its fourth consecutive Asian Games gold medal. After winning in Guangzhou in 2010, Incheon in 2014, and Jakarta-Palembang in 2018, the team was crowned the Asian champions once again.
It’s a feat they’ve accomplished with a young team.
There is no age limit for baseball at the Asian Games, but after winning gold at the 2018 Games in Jakarta-Palembang and facing a backlash over his military service benefits, the team imposed its own age limit this time around.
Initially, athletes were limited to 24 years old and in their third year of professional competition, but when the Games were postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the criteria was revised to 25 years old and in their fourth year of professional competition. Regardless of the criteria, up to three wild cards will be available, and they must be 29 years old or younger.
We also limited the number of players per team to a maximum of three starters to account for the fact that professional baseball’s regular season will be in full swing during the tournament.
With all of these restrictions, there was a lot of concern about the team. The team was considered to be one of the weakest in the history of the Asian Games.
In addition, Koo Chang-mo (NC Dinos) and Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes), who were expected to be the mainstays of the batting lineup ahead of the tournament, dropped out due to injuries. Lee Yi-ri (KIA Tigers) was also dropped from the national team amid controversy.
To make matters worse, Kwak Bin (Doosan Bears), who was expected to start in key matches, was ruled out of the tournament due to a sudden bout of gallbladder symptoms.
The team’s fears seemed to be realized when they were swept 0-4 in their second group game against Chinese Taipei on Day 2, which was considered a watershed moment in their quest for gold.
However, after going into the Super Round with one loss, the team bounced back with a 2-0 win over Japan on the fifth, and with Chinese Taipei’s 4-1 win over China on the same day, South Korea needed to beat China to advance to the final.
Korea punched their ticket to the final with an 8-1 win over China in the final game of the Super Round on June 6.
In the final, the Koreans faced perennial favorites Chinese Taipei again, but they didn’t fall twice.
After starter Moon Dong-joo (Hanwha Eagles) tossed a six-hit, seven-strikeout shutout, the pitching staff of Choi Ji-min (KIA Tigers), Park Young-hyun (KT Wiz), and Ko Woo-seok (LG Twins) each pitched one-hit shutouts to secure a 2-0 victory and the gold medal.
Upon returning home, Ryu Joong-il, the national baseball team manager, said, “We won the gold medal so hard. I have a lump in my throat,” he said, adding, “I’m thrilled because it was so hard. We were criticized for being weak due to the age limit, and there were many worries about whether we could win the gold medal, but the players did a great job and we won the gold medal.”안전놀이터
When asked to name the Most Valuable Player (MVP), Ryu singled out captain Kim Hye-sung (Kiwoom Heroes) and final starter Moon Dong-joo, saying, “Kim Hye-sung didn’t play well in the final, but she did well in the group stage. Moon Dong-ju was the ace in place of Kwak Bin. I think she can become a pitcher at a higher level.”
Meanwhile, the national baseball team will return to their respective teams after the dismissal today as the KBO League is ongoing. We can expect to see the ‘gold medalists’ in the KBO League as early as the 9th.