38 years old, “I want to win gold for men’s volleyball”? That’s why he is the best setter in Korea

In this year’s professional volleyball men’s division, there was no player as brilliant as Han (38, 189cm). His team, Korean Air, won the combined championship for three consecutive seasons and made a significant contribution to building a dynasty. Here, he spent a perfect season rewriting the history of the V-League as the first setter in the men’s division and the oldest player (MVP) of all time.

In the 2022-2023 season, Korean Air won the ‘2022 Suncheon Dodram Cup Professional Volleyball Competition’ in August of last year, and won the ‘Dodram 2022-2023 V-League’ regular season and championship match to achieve a treble. At the same time, he accomplished the feat of winning the unified championship for three consecutive seasons. All of them are the second great record in the men’s division following Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance. Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance won the treble in the 2009-2010 season and the combined championship in three consecutive seasons from the 2011-2012 season to the 2013-2014 season.

​▲ “MVP, I don’t think it’s an award given to an attacker unconditionally.”

Even after the season is over, Han is having a busy day. As he has emerged as the brightest star, interview requests are flooding in. He has no time to rest because he has to prepare for the Asian Club Championships to be held in Manama, Bahrain from May 14th to 21st. Only the winning teams from Asian leagues will participate in this competition.

One player confessed,안전놀이터 “I haven’t been able to rest yet because the schedule is tight. I have to take a break for about two weeks and start training again.” However, after belatedly realizing that he had risen to the top spot, he smiled and said, “Since I won the championship, I think it would be good to do a lot of interviews.”

It was a year he will never forget. In particular, a splendid individual award made Han’s season even brighter. However, he said, “I didn’t think of receiving a prize. I think winning the championship is the best thing,” and smiled broadly, saying, “I feel doubled by winning and receiving the award.” He continued, “I set the next goal to win the combined championship for four consecutive years, and I think I will say that winning next season is the most pleasant thing.”

The regular league MVP award is the most meaningful. This is because it has always been the share of wing strikers. Shin Young-seok (KEPCO) won the MVP for the first time as a middle blocker in the 2017-2018 season, but Han is the first player to win the award as a setter.  

It is an achievement worthy of motivating younger setters and setting an example for them. In response, one player said, “I think anyone can receive MVP,” and said, “Although the striker who scores is important, I don’t think it is the award that the striker receives unconditionally.” He then asked, “I hope you look around because there are liberos and setters.”

He won MVP in both the regular league and championship game, but failed to win the best 7 setter award. The best 7 is calculated with 60% of votes (10% of experts, 40% of media companies, 10% of directors and captains) and 40% of records. . Player Han missed out on this award by finishing third in the set category this season.

However, there was no regret for one player. He said, “It’s not regrettable at all. He didn’t know that he would receive an MVP even after winning the championship,” and said, “I’m just grateful for the MVP award.”

At the center was one player. In volleyball, there is a saying ‘setter play’. No matter how good a striker is, it is difficult to properly use the spike unless you receive an accurate toss. It is no exaggeration to say that Korean Air’s victory this season was led by Han’s elaborate toss. Player Han showed skillful game management in every game and took the lead in Korean Air’s high flight.

Through this performance, he wrote a new history of men’s volleyball this season. He was the first setter to win the men’s regular league MVP, which had always been the share of wing strikers. He won 19 out of 31 press votes, beating OK Financial Group Leo (6 votes), Korean Air Jung Ji-seok (4 votes), Hyundai Capital Heo Soo-bong, and Korean Air Lim Dong-hyuk (above 1 vote).

He also shone on the stage of the championship match. Following the 2017-2018 season, he enjoyed the second MVP honor. Born in 1985, Han became the oldest MVP winner in both men’s and women’s divisions in both the regular league and championship match. Her simultaneous MVP award is the ninth all-time in the men’s division.

But she was more delighted with her team’s win than her individual award. And in an interview with CBS No Cut News held at the gymnasium in Yongin City, Gyeonggi Province on the 14th, he revealed his firm determination to put Korean Air on the top again next season. He revealed a firm goal to challenge the unified championship for 4 consecutive seasons, the most ever in the men’s and women’s divisions.

 “I think the system needs to be changed in order for Eul to succeed the setter lineage.”

Han is the best setter in name and reality. He set a milestone of 17,000 cumulative sets this season. Recording 17,551 successful sets in the regular league, he is more than 3,000 ahead of his teammate Gwang-Woo Yoo (13,795), who is second in this category.

Player Han, who is writing a great record, expressed a sense of responsibility, saying, “I think I have been a player for a long time. I think that each toss I am doing now is the first and I try to play carefully.” He also expressed his desire for personal records in his heart, saying, “I set a goal of 20,000 cumulative sets, but I think it will be possible if I play until the age of 42.”

However, in the V-League, the genealogy of the famous setter was cut off after one player. Han Seon-soo emphasized basic skills to his junior setters, and he advised that they should be able to receive bad receives. However, he also made a sharp point that it is difficult to discover outstanding players with the current domestic system.

When asked if there was a player in the V-League who could succeed him as a setter, he could not easily answer the question. Player Han said, “There are many good setters among juniors. Both physical ability and athletic ability are excellent,” but expressed concern that “Korean volleyball is operated with a system that makes it difficult for the players to find their own color.” “The setter has to play according to his own thoughts, but he often moves according to the leader’s request,” he said.

He also pointed out the problem of player development. One player said, “Among rookies, there are many players who lack the basics. If you look at newcomers playing in overseas leagues, they do their job because they have the basics no matter where they are.” Then, he raised his voice again, saying, “We need to change a lot systematically.” 

In the case of middle and high school student athletes, they can receive training only after completing all regular classes. Due to the ‘minimum academic achievement system’ implemented in 2017 to guarantee student athletes’ right to learn, the environment has changed from the past, when they only took morning classes and trained. As a result, it is pointed out that the training time for nurturing players is extremely insufficient in the used volleyball field. 

“I think it’s right to combine studies and sports,” said Han, cautiously. “I don’t think it’s good to exercise a lot. Even if the time to exercise is short, I think it’s more important to lead the players to feel and learn on their own,” he said.

As a player representing the league, I have a lot of thoughts about the future of Korean volleyball. However, he is not yet thinking about what to do after retiring as a player. Player Han spared his words, saying, “Neither the coach nor the administrator is interested yet. I have no time to think about anything else because I am busy and having a hard time as a player.”

 “Personal goal? I want to win a gold medal in an international competition.”

He is 38 years old this year, but he has expressed his desire to continue his career as a player until he is 42 years old. Although he is still showing off his peak skills, no one can avoid the passage of time. So he is taking care of his body more thoroughly.

Player Han confessed, “The body is the most difficult. The condition is slow to come up and there are many painful places.” “I am doing a lot of reinforcement exercises for the painful area. Recently, I have focused on relieving knee pain,” he said. .

Although he is nearing the end of his career, his goal is becoming more steadfast. He revealed his desire to personally win gold medals in international competitions along with the team’s goal of winning the combined championship for four consecutive seasons. One player said, “My biggest goal is to win 4 consecutive victories. My personal goal is to win gold medals in international competitions after that, but I don’t know if it will be an opportunity or not.”

Han Seon-soo, who recently announced his intention to play for the national team, strongly expressed his affection for the Taegeuk mark. He said, “When I go to the national team, I always get a lot of things,” he said.

Men’s volleyball has not been able to step on the stage of the Olympic finals since being eliminated in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Volleyball Challenger Cup, which was held last year, also missed the championship, and the possibility of participating in the 2024 Paris Olympics is also slim. 

Regarding such sluggish performance in international competitions, one player said, “It is natural for players to show fighting spirit on the court, but there is a sense of regret about the systemic part.” “When the season is over and we gather and train, it seems to end after adapting to the official ball used in international competitions,” he said. “I think the preparation period is short and there are many things to change in the operational part.”

The sluggish performance of international competitions led to the box office failure of men’s volleyball. This season’s V-League was hot, recovering 500,000 spectators and recording the highest viewer rating ever. However, the number of spectators in the men’s division decreased by 34% compared to the 2018-2019 season before the outbreak of Corona 19. There was a stark contrast between the women’s division, which rose by 38.3%, and the joys and sorrows of box office success.

Women’s volleyball is gaining popularity at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics by writing a semifinal myth with ‘Volleyball Empress’ Kim Yeon-kyung (Heungkuk Life Insurance) and others. In response, one player raised his voice, saying, “You have to perform well in international competitions to gain popularity. The role of the national team is important.”

First of all, the next goal that Han players are looking at is Korean Air’s 4 consecutive seasons combined championship. He thanked the fans for their fervent support this season, saying, “I was able to gain strength thanks to the constant trust and support until the end.”

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