South Korean star Kim Yeon Koung finalised her retirement from international play on Thursday, after a meeting with the Korean Volleyball Association (KVA) President Oh Han-nam.
Volleyball superstar Kim retires from international play
Her 16-year national team career ends
Published 08:28, 13 Aug 2021
The national federation announced that Kim reaffirmed her decision to leave the national team in a meeting with the KVA President on Thursday.
Kim initially revealed her plans to retire from international play on Sunday, following her team’s loss to Serbia in the bronze medal match of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Upon her arrival in Korea on Monday, Kim said that she would have to discuss her future with Oh before finalising her decision.
Kim is widely regarded as the greatest South Korean volleyball player ever. She made her national team debut in 2005 and helped her team become one of strongest teams in the world.
As her country's primary option in offence, Kim led her team to the final four twice in their last three Olympic Games appearances. Kim also won the Incheon 2014 Asian Games gold medal with her country.
Kim will continue her club career and will see action next season for China-based club Shanghai Bright Ubest.
“I would not be the player that I am today without them,” Kim said to thank her teammates whom she spent her 16-year career with.
The time I’ve spent on the national team has been really meaningful in my life. I’ve enjoyed it so much. Though I am leaving now, I believe the new generation of players will continue to do the country proud. Kim Yeon Koung
KVA president Oh expressed his gratitude for the Korean superstar’s devotion to the national team.
"As the head of the national federation, I have been extremely fortunate to have met such a great player," Oh said.
"A part of me wishes that she would play for the country a little longer, but she has already accomplished so much. I should respect her future plans and her decision to retire from the national team. I will continue to cheer for her for the rest of her playing career."
The KVA proposed a retirement ceremony for Kim, but the player expressed the wish for it to take place after her club career finishes.
In Tokyo, Kim carried the underdog South Korea on her back to an unlikely run to the final four. They played a couple of five-set matches in the preliminary round, including the thrilling win over Japan to reach the quarterfinals.
They entered the Olympics ranked 14th in the world and upset world No. 4 Turkey in the quarterfinals in another five-set battle, before losing to world No. 2 Brazil in the semifinals and world No. 6 Serbia in the bronze medal match.
She finished second overall with 136 points in Tokyo, including her 11-point performance in the bronze medal match.
“She’s very scary when she’s angry but her personality helped develop this team into a medal contender. She is a great leader, and it was an honour to play with her. We learned so much at the Olympics from her and we can only improve,” teammate Yang Hyo Jin said.
We all know who Kim is, one of the best players in the world. I had the chance of playing two seasons with her at Eczacibasi and against her in the national team. I really enjoy watching her because she is an incredible player. I wish her good luck. Tijana Boskovic