Much bigger and stronger opponents than the Asian Championships await the Korean team. Kim Yeon-yeon is quietly preparing to face them.
The South Korean women’s national volleyball team left the country on Thursday to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Łódź, Poland, from June 16-24. A total of 24 nations will compete in three groups, with only the top two teams from each group qualifying for the Olympic Games.
South Korea was placed in Group C alongside Poland, Italy, the United States, Germany, Thailand, Colombia, and Slovenia. It’s a tough group with no favorites. The team is also coming off back-to-back poor performances at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2023 and the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Women’s Championship 2023. It’s a cliché, but a miracle is needed to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Kim, who met with The Spike on Thursday at her departure site, admitted that she is not optimistic about the situation, saying, “It’s true that it’s very difficult.” However, she said, “You can’t say no or give up. I’m still preparing with the mindset that if I keep fighting as hard as I can, good things will come,” she said.
Kim, who rejoined the team at the last Asian Championships, will be playing alongside Moon Jung-won as the team’s only libero. “We need to be better prepared in all areas than we were at the Asian Championships. It’s also important to stay focused until the end of the match. “My sister (Moon) Jung-won and I have been talking a lot, asking each other how we can do better in defense and reception. It helped us a lot.”
With back-to-back international tournaments and the 2023 Gumi Dodram Cup professional volleyball tournament, Kim and her teammates are in a tough spot physically. On top of that, their first opponent in the Olympic Qualifiers, Italy, is a team with a clear advantage over Korea in terms of physicality and power, as well as overall strength.
“It’s a tough schedule,” Kim said, “but we have no choice. We’re trying to manage what we can and keep improving. Especially after the Asian Championship, when we meet a European team like Italy, we expect that it will be difficult to deal with the different power and height of the opponent, so we are trying to improve even more,” he said, revealing that they are preparing to face the strongest teams as best they can. 안전놀이터
At the end of the interview, Kim said, “Many fans came to the airport even though it was early, so I think I will be able to play with more strength. I’ll do my best to show them. Goodbye,” and thanked her fans. Fans are hoping to see Kim and her teammates not give up as much as the result, if not more.