“I want to become a member of the national team and become the first Korean athlete to stand at the top of the world championships, something no one has done before.”
Hong Ji-hyun (19, Hwaseong City Hall), the country’s top female swordswoman, won her fourth title of the season after defeating Lee Ye-jin (Busan City Sports Association) in the final of the women’s general category of the 45th National Kendo Championships, the country’s most prestigious kendo tournament, in overtime on March 21.
After graduating from Gwangmyeong High School and entering the unemployment arena last year, Hong won four titles, and this season, she has already collected four trophies, including the Winter Unemployment Kendo Competition, the National Unemployment Kendo Competition (March), the Presidential Kendo Competition (May), and the Presidential Kendo Competition.
Hong, who was selected to the national team this year after serving on the high school national team for three years since her freshman year of high school, is certain to be selected for the first time in her career unless something goes wrong at the national team trials, which will be held at the end of August. Her current ranking as the No. 1 women’s player in the country speaks for itself.
But her goal isn’t just to make the national team. It is to stand atop the individual and team podiums at the World Championships, where no South Korean athlete, male or female, has ever made it past the Japanese barrier. Hwaseong City Hall coach Gam Jong-heon says it’s a goal worth striving for if he continues to grow at the current rate.
Hong Ji-hyun’s parents are kendo practitioners, so the kendo hall became her playground from a young age, and she was naturally introduced to kendo as a toy. She began training in earnest in the first grade and swept the national championships from the fourth grade onward, winning gold medals in two to three competitions every year.
After winning 10 tournaments as a student at Hwaseong Donghwa Middle School, he followed his two-year-old brother (Hong Kyung-nam) to Gwangmyeong Middle and High School in the third grade, where he went on to win 12 individual tournaments in his first three years of high school. He then chose to join an unemployed team in order to compete at the professional level after rejecting scouting offers from university teams.스포츠토토
According to her coach, she has impeccable physical condition, standing at 167 centimeters tall, with solid fundamentals, a wide range of skills, and an improvisational game management, but she admits that she still lacks power in her batting.
“My parents and brother are also kendo players, so they give me a lot of advice and help me. Especially my brother’s advice is very helpful,” she said, adding, “I am very lucky that I always have a place to train (my parents’ kendo center).”
Meanwhile, Hong’s parents have been running a kendo center in their second hometown of Hwaseong for 13 years, with her father (Hong Young-sik) as the director and her mother (Park Myung-sim) as the instructor.