Upstart N. Korean wins youth ping pong title in S. Korea

DAEJEON, July 18 (Yonhap) -- An upstart North Korean teenager captured a youth table tennis title in South Korea on Wednesday.

Ham Yu-song, 19, edged out Kohei Sambe of Japan 3-1 (11-9, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7) to take the men's under-21 singles title at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Platinum Korea Open in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul.

Listed at 175th in the U-21 world rankings, Ham upset world No. 4 Yuto Kizukuri of Japan in the quarterfinals and took down another Japanese player, Kakeru Sone, in the semifinals before beating Sambe.

Ham stormed out of the gate to take the first game against Sambe but blew a 9-5 lead in the second game to go down 12-10.

But Ham bounced back to win the next two games and close out the match.

Ham is one of 16 North Koreans who crossed the border for the tournament, which wraps up Sunday. The Koreas have formed two unified teams in the mixed doubles and one joint team each in the men's and women's doubles.

This is North Korea's first appearance at the Korea Open, now in its 18th edition, making Ham the first North Korean winner of any discipline at the event.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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