It’s been a long time coming. The golden era of the 2010s. Korean women’s volleyball reached heights it had only dreamed of. Four Olympic quarterfinals, eight quarterfinals, and four semifinals. The myth of the Tokyo Olympics quarterfinals, which was achieved amidst concerns and difficulties, was the crowning glory. But as the mountains are high, so are the valleys. After the golden generation retired from the national team, women’s volleyball was in dire straits. In the recent FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL), the team went winless (24 losses) in two consecutive tournaments. The team’s prospects for the Hangzhou Asian Games in September are also in doubt.메이저사이트
Despite the crisis, national team captain Park Jung-ah (30-Pepper Savings Bank) was all smiles. “Winning a medal is everyone’s goal,” she said on Sunday at the women’s volleyball team’s open training session at Jincheon Athletic Village in Chungcheongbuk-do. “When you have a goal, you want to achieve it, so if we work hard together, we will have good results,” she said optimistically. The women’s volleyball team has won back-to-back medals at three previous Asian Games, including gold in Incheon in 2014.
In fact, the team’s open training session was held in an upbeat atmosphere. It was not rigid or one-sided, and focused on building team cohesion through drills that incorporated music and games. Park said of her leadership as captain, “I tend to listen a lot,” adding, “Rather than saying ‘do this’ or ‘do that,’ we talk about ‘I think it would be good to do this’ together,” which suits her well.
Despite her seemingly soft personality, Park is actually as tough as anyone. Park has faced more ups and downs in the national team than any other player, most notably at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she came under intense criticism from social media users after the team lost to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. She even had to close her personal Instagram account. The volleyball world tried to defend Park by saying that it was the Korean volleyball system’s fault, not hers, but they were helpless in the face of the “patriotism” that often erupts during international competitions.
She could have crumbled, but she didn’t. In fact, Park continued to excel in the international tournaments that followed. He became one of South Korea’s leading attackers and an ace who could carry the burden of Kim Yeon-kyung. The performance carried over to the league, where Park earned her first career Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors as she led Korea Expressway Corporation to the women’s championship in the 2017-2018 season. When she was named captain of the national team to succeed Kim Yeon-kyung, she said, “I’m the captain, but I think I’ll be fine if I share the burden. I have to share the responsibility with the players,” she said, adding, “I think if each player takes responsibility, there will be a lot less pressure on me.”
The highlight was the Tokyo Olympics. Park emerged as the heroine of a come-from-behind victory in the fourth match of Pool A against Japan, which was the most crucial step toward the quarterfinals. South Korea was down 12-14 in the fifth set and needed just one point to lose. Park held her nerve and scored two consecutive points to pull within 14-14. After a deuce, Korea took the fifth set 16-14 to advance to the quarterfinals. It was the moment when the Rio heroine was reborn as a Tokyo hero. That’s why Park is not discouraged by the setback and is looking to the future.
The women’s volleyball team will now head straight to the Asian Championships in Thailand on August 30 and then to the Hangzhou Asian Games on September 20. “I was very happy with the last two training sessions,” said head coach Cesar Gonzalez, “and I think we can be more competitive.” Park will wear the captain’s armband, but one thing is for sure: she will be smiling with a medal around her neck. Park, as she is nicknamed, is never one to miss a crucial opportunity.