“A promise with a friend, a debt in the heart. The day will come when it will all be paid off.” Act 2 of the life of former Doosan pitcher Myeong-je Kim, who turned into a wheelchair tennis player

 “Promises with friends, debts in the heart. The day will come to pay them all.”

If you’re a fan of Korean professional baseball from the mid-2000s to 2010, you’ve probably heard his name seven times out of ten. What if you were a fan of the Doosan Bears based in Seoul at this time? I bet you know him 100%. A pitcher of misfortune who blew away his future as a promising baseball player due to an irreversible mistake called a drunk driving accident. It is Kim Myeong-je (36).

At the end of 2009, he had a major accident in which the vehicle he was driving crashed into a median barrier and fell under a river bridge. Fortunately, no one else was hurt. However, Kim Myung-jae’s baseball career ended because of this. Two of his cervical vertebrae were fractured. I could have lost my life. A major operation that lasted 10 hours. When he woke up in the intensive care unit, he realized that not only was Kim Myung-jae no longer able to play baseball, but he also found it difficult to fully control his body. A healthy, non-disabled athlete suddenly became a disabled person with inconvenient movement.

A fact well known to baseball fans. If you look at it this far, it can be a great tragedy. However, from this point on, the story of Kim Myeong-jae’s life has been transformed into a new scene. I met Kim Myeong-jae, who is in the middle of his second career as a ‘wheelchair tennis player’, at the physical training center of the Icheon Disabled Athletes’ Village in early February.

Kim Myeong-je stood up on his feet and asked for a handshake. He greeted the reporter with a bright smile, saying, “Since I played wheelchair tennis after the accident, many people think that I can’t even walk at all. It’s just a little uncomfortable, but I walk well.”

▶Stagnation period after the transformation, but the goal is unwavering

Kim Myeong-je said, “It is a well-known story, but I wandered a lot for about four years after the accident. I have a short career, so I still have a long way to go,” he briefly explained the reason for his transformation into a wheelchair tennis player.

Because he has such a natural athletic nerve, he quickly achieved results. Nine years after the accident, he participated in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta as a wheelchair tennis national team and won a silver medal in quad doubles. If he went on like this, he could expect to win a gold medal at the Asian Games, and even a medal at the World Championships or the Paralympic Games.

However, Kim Myeong-je tries to transform once again here. The adventure of changing his racket-holding hand from right hand to left hand. It’s as difficult as turning a right-handed pitcher to a left-handed pitcher. However, for Kim Myeong-je, this was not a matter of choice, but a matter of ‘survival’. “When I first learned to play tennis, I played with my right hand, which I was used to, but somehow I didn’t have enough strength in the aftermath of the accident. Above all, my shoulder, which was damaged while throwing a ball as a pitcher, kept hurting. I did.”

For Kim Myung-je’s choice, Sports Toto Korea, the team he belongs to, and coach Yu Ji-gon, wholeheartedly supported and supported. Because I understood very well why he changed his hand. Kim Myeong-je said, “If it weren’t for the help of the company (Sports Toto Korea), the coach, and the people around me, it would have been difficult to continue. A little over three years have passed now, and there is still a long way to go.”

Fortunately, Kim Myung-jae had good feel in his left hand even when he was a baseball player. He said, “I used to practice throwing the ball with my left hand since middle school. After the accident, my left hand got stronger. Fortunately, I came to the Icheon training center at the beginning of this year and focused only on exercise, so I am getting better again.”

▶ Re-challenge for the Asian Games medal, and I will stand tall.

Currently, Kim Myeong-jae’s goal is to win a medal at the Asian Games for the Disabled in Hangzhou, which will be held in October this year. But this time he challenges with his ‘left hand’. Kim Myeong-je said, “My top priority right now is definitely winning a medal at the Asian Games. What could be meaningful to me is that in Jakarta, I won a quad doubles medal with my right hand. If I win it with my left hand this time, I think it will mean that I will win medals with both hands.” . It’s about continuing to challenge,” he said, revealing his goal. 안전놀이터

There are prerequisites to achieve this goal. First of all, it is to achieve meaningful results at the ‘World Championship’. Kim Myeong-je said, “I’ve been regaining my confidence since I’ve been working hard on training. I’m currently ranked 21st, but I have to get in 14th to go to the World Championships on my own. Fortunately, I have a lot of tour schedules from the end of February, so I think I’ll have to earn points steadily.” said.

Currently, Kim Myeong-je departed for Thailand on the 25th and is ahead of the ‘BNP Paribas World Team Cup’. Kim Myeong-je said, “This tournament is a team competition, so there are no individual points. However, I am proud of being a member of the national team and am concentrating on getting good results. Even if there are no points, it is a real match, so I have a personality to prepare for the individual tour to be held in Malaysia next month. “He promised to advance.

As a wheelchair tennis player, Kim Myung-jae has something he really wants to do if he wins a medal in the Asian Games, which he set as his goal. One is to pay off the debt of his heart to the officials and fans of his team, the Doosan Bears, during his professional baseball days. He said, “Even after the accident, the Doosan general manager Kim Tae-ryong and the front staff continued to send interest and encouragement. Even though I had an accident in a way, I am so grateful and sorry that you still support me. I think it will stand,” he said.

The other goal is to keep promises to ‘friends’. Choi Jeong-eun, a left-handed wheelchair tennis player, said, “My friends from my time as a player encouraged me a lot. Samsung Lee Won-seok gave me a wheelchair as a gift. SSG Choi Jeong-eun decided to meet as pitcher and hitter. I am grateful to all of them. I want to meet them again at the baseball field.” As a result, I made a commitment to win a medal at the Asian Games.

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