The Asian-Oceanian Cadets and Junior Judo Championships 2019 took place in Chinese Taipei in late July.
Ri Chong Mi from the DPRK claimed the women’s 57 kg title and drew the attention of experts and fans as a promising player at the championships.
She overpowered all her opponents with high physical, technical and offensive superiority from preliminary to final without allowing even a loss throughout matches.
Hailing from Pyongyang, she began to learn judo at the age of seven.
According to her mother Song Mi Suk, her daughter became curious about the sport in 2007 when Kye Sun Hui won the world championship for the fourth time.
“Kye’s final match was televised every day at the time when the whole country was bubbling over with jubilation of her triumph. It is still vivid in my memory that at that time I answered the questions of my young daughter who asked me about the details of the match as she attentively watched it like adults. When judo matches were on screen, she stopped her playing and imitated players’ movements. I thought she had a gifted aptitude for judo,” she recalled.
Seeing her, who often said that she would become a famous judoist like Kye as she performed judo movements, old villagers called her “young Kye Sun Hui”.
When she was seven years old, she was enrolled at juvenile sports school in Ryokpho District.
“Chong Mi was far better than others in physical fitness and acquiring technical movements. She inherited the natural aptitude from her parents who were a speed skater and basketball player. What was more important was that she made strenuous efforts to prove herself with an ambitious goal and resolve beyond her age in practice,” said her coach Kim Son Ok.
Three years after she began her career as a judoist, she won the women’s 36 kg category at the national games of juvenile sports schools and emerged victorious in different weight divisions.
Later, she was promoted to the sports club of Pyongyang Han Tok Su University of Light Industry. She honed her special techniques including back throw under the coaching of Choe Kwang Son and reached the top three at national tournaments in 2018 and 2019.