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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

Other Sport

Olympic champs as parents, An has it in his genes
Robin Bose, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, February 03, 2013
First Published: 01:05 IST(3/2/2013)
Last Updated: 01:09 IST(3/2/2013)

He laughs it off, the façade is to ward off the query, but it hasn't been easy for An Byeong-hun to grow up as Jiao Zhi-Min and Ahn Jae-Hyung's son.

An can't recollect seeing the medals his parents won in table tennis at the highest level, but the 21-year-old is sure that he possesses the pedigree that will allow him to match his parents' career graph.

Apart from accolades at other marquee events, medals at the 1988 Seoul Olympics form a part of Jiao and Ahn's collection, but the son doesn't remember getting to hold them.

"Probably, mom has them with her in China (where Jiao now works as a sports anchor on TV).

Role models
An may have trouble recollecting that aspect of his parents' glorious past, but their achievements have always been with him.

"They are bigger role models than any golfer, mentors you can call them," said An, who became the youngest winner of the US Amateur in 2009 at age 17.

At the 2010 US Amateur, he became the first defending champion to advance to the semifinals since Tiger Woods in 1996.

An attributes the initiation to golf to his father, who moved with him to the US in 2005 when An joined the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida. "Dad did not want me to play TT as it is tough. I feel golf is tougher," An smiled.

The way his fledgling professional career has shaped up, An seems to be on the right path.

In 2010, he played the Masters, British Open and US Open. He made his PGA Tour debut in March that year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a week before the Masters.

"I grew up listening to tales of how good they (parents) were. Hopefully, in future, people will talk about me too," said An.


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