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Kim Yeon-koung retires from the game

Posted June. 10, 2024 08:09,   

Updated June. 10, 2024 08:09


"I wore the national flag on my uniform for many years. I'm grateful to share my retirement ceremony with all of you."

‘Volleyball Empress’ Kim Yeon-koung, 36, said this at her retirement ceremony for the national team at Jamsil Indoor Stadium in Seoul on Saturday. Kim, who joined the national team in 2004, announced her retirement after the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. However, the event was postponed due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, so the retirement ceremony and match were held on Saturday. More than 6,000 fans came to watch Kim play her last game with the Korean flag on her uniform.

“Without all of you and senior players, women's volleyball wouldn't have gotten so much attention,” Kim said. “I'm tearing up talking about it. I'm really grateful.” She quickly handed the microphone to the moderator and wiped away the tears as the tribute video played on the stadium's big screen.

“She is one of the greatest players in the history of volleyball and a great role model for millions of people around the world,” said Ary Graça, president of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), in a video message. “Everyone will be sad to see Kim Yeon-kyoung retire from the Korean national team. They will also miss her energy and dedication. I am sure she will continue to be a role model for many elsewhere.”

Kim also held a launch ceremony for the KYK Foundation, named after the initials of her name, at the same venue on Sunday. “I've always dreamed of starting a foundation to help develop youth sports,” Kim said, explaining that she aims to positively impact sports by discovering and nurturing promising athletes in various sports, not just volleyball. After the launch ceremony, the foundation hosted an event match, the World Women's Volleyball All-Star Game, inviting her former teammates from overseas leagues.

김정훈기자 hun@donga.com