11-Year-Old Child Makes History In Hangzhou, China

She’s one of a kind in the 19th Asian Games!

History was made at the 19th Asian Games! The sport in the spotlight, chess, is making an official comeback for the first time in thirteen years.

Besides this, one athlete is gaining attention for making history due to her age. This is none other than 11-year old Kim Sarang, a chess prodigy who is representing South Korea at the ongoing continent-wide event. She is the youngest chess national representative of South Korea, not only at present but in its entire history!

Kim Sarang grew up in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province. She started playing chess at the tender age of seven years old, immediately loving its intellectual nature.

In 2019, while she was in the 2nd grade at Yangpyeong Dong Elementary School, she had her first encounter with chess through after-school activities while attending a Baduk (Go) class. At that time, her Baduk teacher introduced chess to her for fun, and she found it incredibly enjoyable. She got hooked because unlike Baduk, each chess piece has unique functions, which attracted her to the game.

— Namu Wiki

Kim Sarang | Namu Wiki

It was clear from the start that she was a chess prodigy. She was quickly singled out from her batch for her quick-thinking nature.

Kim Sarang is known for having an exceptional memorization ability. In the first grade of elementary school, she managed to memorize all 700 characters of the lyrics that celebrate 100 outstanding figures in Korean history after listening to them only five times. This remarkable memory is a valuable asset in chess, as it allows her to remember and calculate numerous move possibilities, which is crucial for making strategic decisions.

— Namu Wiki

Her parents were all too happy to support her obvious talent in the game. They even made a drastic decision to live an hour and a half away just so their daughter could have more time to practice.

She began developing her skills by commuting between her home in Yangpyeong and a chess academy in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. However, the distance between her home in Yangpyeong and the Seoul academy was about an hour and a half by car. To support her dedication to chess, Kim Sarang’s parents even moved to Seoul in 2020.

— Namu Wiki

This sacrifice paid off almost immediately. Kim Sarang quickly made a name for herself on a national level, winning competitions left and right. At just ten years old, she even earned the official title “WCM (Woman Candidate Master).”

Just three months after starting, she began winning gold medals at national competitions. In the 2021 World Youth Mind Sports Fair domestic selection event, she and her younger brother, Kim Donghan, both advanced to the international finals by securing first place in their respective categories.

In 2022, they participated together in the East Asian Youth Chess Championships held in Thailand. Kim Sarang won the silver medal in the individual category, while her brother Kim Donghan earned a bronze medal in the team competition. Kim Sarang’s achievement in this tournament allowed her to provisionally acquire the WCM (Woman Candidate Master) title, a prestigious chess title. This recognition marked one of the highest-ever achievements by a Korean player in domestic chess, raising expectations for her excellent performance in the upcoming Hangzhou Asian Games.
In preparation for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games and with a desire to represent her school, where she first started playing chess, Kim Sarang transferred back to Yangpyeong.

— Namu Wiki

It was also in 2022 when she was added to the roster of the South Korean national chess team for the 19th Asian Games. Officially, she “holds the record for the youngest chess national representative in South Korea’s history.”

At the age of 11, in the 6th grade of elementary school, Kim Sarang was selected as a chess representative for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. She is the youngest athlete among the 867 national representatives participating in the Hangzhou Asian Games and holds the record for the youngest chess national representative in South Korea’s history.

— Namu Wiki

Interestingly, Kim Sarang already knows that she does not want to pursue chess long-term. She already has her eyes set on one day becoming the country’s Minister of National Defense!

When asked about her future aspirations, she expressed her desire to become the Minister of National Defense. Her deep appreciation for Yu Gwan Sun, whom she learned about while preparing for the 1st Yeowunhyung Speech Contest hosted by Yangpyeong County in her second year at Yangpyeong Elementary School, inspired her to set a goal of becoming someone who protects the country.

— Namu Wiki

For now, however, she is busy showing the world that she has what it takes to make it big in chess.

The 19th Asian Games will be held from September 23 to October 8.

Source: theqoo and Hangzhou 2022