It was a perfect happy ending. Kang Baek-ho (24, KT Wiz) and Baek Seung-ho (26, Jeonbuk Hyundai), who were veterans and had to take center stage in their respective national teams, suffered from negative public opinion until just a few days ago. Because it was a competition that attracted national attention, it became a ‘nation’s disgrace’. Therefore, it was an even more perfect ending for those who led baseball and soccer championships.
The 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which were held for 16 days, came to an end with the closing ceremony on the 8th. The 7th attracted a lot of attention. This was because it was the day when the finals of popular professional sports, baseball and soccer, were held.
In baseball and soccer, they defeated Taiwan 2-0 and Japan 2-1, respectively, in the finals. Baseball achieved its fourth consecutive loss, and soccer achieved its third consecutive loss. The two turned all the criticism directed at them around with results.
This is Kang Baek-ho, who had particularly severe emotional distress. He made a spectacular debut on the professional stage, winning the Rookie of the Year award, and was building an outstanding career, but he was put on the chopping block just for wearing his Taegeuk mark.
The national team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was disappointed by only winning no medals, and Kang Baek-ho received a lot of criticism after being caught chewing gum while the team was being dragged away. Up to this point, there were quite a few reactions saying that the attack was a bit too much, but the ‘absurd celebration’ shown in the match against Australia at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) held in March this year was a fatal blow. Korea was caught by Australia, which led to their elimination in the first round of the tournament. The aftermath was severe.
Even upon returning to his team, the criticism intensified as his complacent play led to conceding goals. Although there was no special injury, Kang Baek-ho had to spend more than 40 days in the second team.
After returning to the first team, he improved his senses with a batting average of 0.357 in 10 games, but in the first round of the Asian Games, he struggled with no hits in 10 at-bats, and criticism was directed at him again. Although he was placed in the central batting lineup, he was silent, and the defeat against Taiwan led the national team to walk a thorny path in which they had to weigh their chances.
He had one hit in the first Super Round match against underdog Thailand and Japan, but he still didn’t look like he was hitting well.
Baek Seung-ho was also the same. Baek Seung-ho, who joined as a wild card and took over as captain, participated in all games played by the national team. This was a passage that showed how high expectations were placed on Hwang Seon-Hong, who started a thorough rotation.
However, sometimes mistakes were made due to lack of concentration and luck was not in favor. In the round of 16 match against Kyrgyzstan, he came down to the last place and during the build-up process, he made a mistake with the ball and had the ball taken away, giving him an excuse to concede a goal. He also missed a pass during the rear build-up in the quarterfinals against China. It was fortunate that the opponent’s shot hit the goal post.
In the semifinal against Uzbekistan, he gave away a free kick in a dangerous position, and while trying to block it, the ball hit his head and deflected, hitting the net.
He felt somewhat mortified. In an interview with reporters, he said, “They say I’m working hard, but this kind of situation has come up. As I try my best, situations like this keep coming up, but I have nothing to say.” He added, “Many reporters say, ‘If Baek Seung-ho plays well, we can go to the finals,’ as if I was playing alone before the game.” “A lot of articles are posted like this, and I’m curious about what kind of mindset they have when they post them, and I’m also curious about what they can do to be satisfied. What I want to say is, I hope people will trust and support me,” he appealed.
Is there a drama with a twist like this? They eventually reached the most thrilling ending. Kang Baek-ho led his team to the finals with a great performance in the second game of the Super Round against China, where advancement to the finals was determined, with 3 hits in 4 at-bats, including a home run, 1 walk, and 1 RBI.스포츠토토
After the game, he said, “I always feel pressure because I’ve shown a lot of bad performances in international competitions. I think international competitions have always been very difficult, one by one,” and “There are really important games left, and whether they do well or not in those games, all players will have to do well.” Kang Baek-ho, who said, “I will do my best to show that I will take responsibility and do my best,” also reported a hit in the final against Taiwan when they met again, and happily took the gold medal.
Baek Seung-ho also started as a starter in the final match between Korea and Japan and helped secure the gold medal by solidly protecting the midfield. When the final whistle sounded with a 2-1 lead, he fell to the ground and cried. He was also hugged by Director Hwang Seon-hong and his eyes were red for a long time.
After winning, Baek Seung-ho said, “This competition was a turning point,” and “I feel like I learned a lot and grew as a person.” It is said that sports must ultimately be proven through results. Ultimately, it is the result that silences many criticisms. Kang Baek-ho and Baek Seung-ho, who transformed into swans in ‘The Ugly Duckling’, proved that truth with results.