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With the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games just 10 days away after being postponed for a year due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Taegeuk Warriors showed both excitement and determination as they held their final ceremonies.

Ahn Se-young (Samsung Life Insurance), the world No. 1 in the women’s singles badminton, met with reporters at the Asian Games team signing ceremony at the Olympic Hall in Songpa-gu, Seoul, on Wednesday and said, “I can’t believe how close the Games are. I’m worried, but I’m not too nervous because I think I’ll have a good result if I prepare well,” she said.

Ahn became the first South Korean player in 27 years to be ranked No. 1 in the women’s badminton singles in July, and last month, she became the first South Korean to win a singles title at the world championships.

She is the No. 0 gold medal favorite at the Asian Games and continued her fine form by winning the China Open in Changzhou, China, last weekend.

“I’m happy to have done well at the China Open, which was an important part of my preparation for the World Championships and Asian Games. I gained a lot of confidence,” she smiled.

With her sights set on winning the Olympic, World, Asian and Asian Games titles, Hangzhou is her chance to win her first Asian Games gold medal.

“I’m glad that the one-year postponement gave me a chance to get stronger,” Ahn said. “It’s definitely a different feeling coming to the final than four years ago. Four years ago, I was sitting in the back and was the youngest, but this time I got to stand in front of the athletes and compete while performing well, so it’s new,” said Ahn.

“We will have to play a lot of matches at the Asian Games, so we will prepare by managing our physical fitness well and improving our offense,” he added.

Table tennis standout Shin Yubin (Korean Air) also expressed his excitement, saying, “I can’t believe it’s the Asian Games and I’m very excited.”

This will be the first time he has competed at an Asian Games, having been affectionately nicknamed ‘Piyak’ at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

“I’m not nervous, I’m just thinking about doing the best I can,” Shin said. “I don’t want to think about medals, but I want to make a good match,” he said, adding, “I don’t have any special preparations and I will do the best I can.

Fencing men’s sabre veteran Koo Bon-gil (Korea Sports Promotion Organization) is confident of winning his fourth consecutive Asian Games individual title.

“I’m the ‘Prince of Asia,'” said Koo, who made the press laugh with his trademark sarcasm, “I’m in good shape and there are a lot of records on the line, so I’ll focus more than other competitions and take advantage of the opportunity that doesn’t come to just anyone.”

“Before that, I was just going through the motions, but when I came to the final, I realized, ‘I’m here,'” he said. “At the Tokyo Olympics, there were a lot of restrictions (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), so I didn’t really realize it, but this time it’s different. It reminds me of my first Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010, and I’m excited.”

The athletes’ determination to become the first Korean athletes to be labeled ‘Asian Games Team Korea’ was also exceptional.

Kwon Sung-hee (Starry), who will be competing in breaking for the first time at the Asian Games, said, “We have a strong image of ‘street dancing,’ but it’s a new honor to be able to show our dance to the public in such a formal setting.”

“Korea is a breaking powerhouse, so there are a lot of expectations, and we will do our best to live up to them,” said Kwon, who has been training one-on-one with a trainer. 슬롯

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