Olympics 2018: Korean miracle

Two-time Olympic champion speed skater LEE sang-HWA. Photo from archive “SE”


or in any sports in addition to skating and short track, the hosts of the upcoming Olympics has made amazing progress and will compete for medals in Pyeongchang.

Seoul 1988 was the most successful summer Olympics in Korean history. Neither before nor after the athletes failed to win 33 awards (12-10-11) and climb up to fourth place in the medal standings of the Games. And there is every reason to believe that Pyeongchang 2018 will follow in the footsteps of Seoul.

The long years of winter sport in the land of morning calm is held exclusively on two pillars – the masters of short track and speed skating. Skating them for the first time joined only in Vancouver in 2010 and stayed there until the next Games solely because of Kim Yong A. But in February of the following year, the Korean medal the map may appear a couple of new marks.

How the hosts of future Games over the past few years could have made such progress, as well as about the main applicants for awards of the Olympics, read the material of the correspondent”SE”.


At the winter Olympics Korea debuted in St. Moritz-1948. But it was neither more nor less – 44 years before the country’s athletes for the first time rose on a pedestal of Games. Historic was February 18, 1992, when silver is at a distance of 1000 meters was won by speed skater Kim Yoon-man. But the main page in the history of the Korean speed skating was written much later, namely in Vancouver in 2010, where three Korean walked in the medal table itself Holland.

Lee sang-Hwa speed skating sport came after the brother, but because the parents could not pay for both a workout, soon he was forced to abandon his sports career in favor of a more talented younger sister. Taking on his first Olympics in Turin 2006 in fifth place in Vancouver Lee sang-Hwa, which in the homeland is not called differently, like a sack of Bok ja, which means “sweet hips” (Koreans love to give athletes nicknames, which often even replacing their names) came in the rank of world champion in sprint all-round. And won the crown 500-metrovke, leaving behind the current at the time the world record holder Germany’s Jenny wolf.

But if Lee sang-Hwa have all been waiting for success, the exploits of her colleagues on the men’s team became a real surprise. Lee Seung Hoon only ten months later, after I was not selected to the national team in short track won as a skater silver on a distance of 5000 meters and 10000 gold in Vancouver in 2010. Victory, however, went to the Koreans, not least because of the incident with Sven Kramer. Eminent Dutchman was disqualified due to the fact that mixed up the order of changing lanes.

Mo Tae-Beom named “Motor Bong” to his Olympic success achievements were rather modest and only in the juniors. But on 15 February 2010, he made myself a gorgeous gift for 21st birthday in the form of Olympic gold on a distance of 500 meters, and two days later added to it another and silver in the 1000. However, in Sochi to confirm the reputation he has failed, in contrast again rose to the highest step of the podium Lee sang-Hwa and won silver in the team Lee Seung Hoon.

After this athlete, who has established a reputation as a bad guy, became depressed and gained weight (almost up to a hundred pounds). However, this year still took himself in hand and hopes to please the fans at the games, along with the above mentioned colleagues in the national team, and also turned speed skaters Olympic champion Sochi in short track Pak Seung-Hui and the current world champion in the mass start Kim Bo-Ring. Koreans on the rights of the owners a warning in advance that this discipline was included in the program of the Games-2018.


Medals poured in the Korean Treasury from the horn of plenty after the Olympics took the short track, and it happened at the Albertville-1992. Today, with 21 gold 12 silver and 9 bronze medals he is confident ahead skating (4-4-1).

In Korea, short-track is insanely popular (the championship of the district they collect as many participants as we did not collect the championship of Ukraine). Olympic medals financial are encouraged, so competition for a place in the team is just crazy and a little weird.

So the national team for the next season is generated immediately after the previous one, that is, the six candidates for the Pyeongchang 2018 was identified in the spring of 2017 and it was not, for example, the double Olympic champion of Vancouver’s Lee Jeong-su, the reigning world champion at 1500 meters, winner of gold absolute world forum 2013, Sin Da una. In fairness, we note that the last career went downhill even before that, after he one day at practice I hit the rookie team, allegedly cut in front of him on the turn, and was suspended by his own Federation for a whole season (2015/16). Although claimed to be the leader of the team, after April 3, 2016 died of cancer a rising star of Korean short track But Jin-Gyu.

However, as shown first in the Olympic season, the world Cup in Budapest and Dordrecht yesterday’s juniors, the national selection of more experienced colleagues in the elite company merged with confident enough. Let’s see what happens three months later in Pyeongchang.

Since 1992, at the Olympics the Koreans on the number of awards in the short track never dropped below second place, second only to that of China. But gradually interest in the sport in other countries, however, and the level of competition grew. In Sochi 2014, the palm intercepted Russia, however, largely thanks to three gold and one bronze medals naturalized Korean Viktor Ahn.

The Grand success of former compatriots against the total failure of his own male team (all five medals won women) caused a huge outcry in Korea. Park Geun-Hye (at that time still President of the country) demanded to understand how the triple Olympic champion of Turin could not be the right Korea. In fact, the origins of this controversial precedent (and history knows a few cases when Korean athletes have changed nationality) go back in the 2006 FIFA world Cup. Training with the women’s national team, a knee injury and a failed selection to Vancouver – it was already a consequence of what happened in Minneapolis. An said that his teammates did everything that he did not become an absolute champion. It even came to a fight between the father of the athlete and one of the officials at the airport after the team returned to Korea.

Problems in the Korean short track there were many before and afterwards. In the spring of 2010, came under fire of the main characters of Vancouver’s Lee Jung su and Kwak Yoon GI. For being the first at the behest of the coach faked an injury, freeing up the road to the world Cup second, both received three years ‘ disqualification, which under pressure of the public still reduced to six months. Lee Jung su then decided to try his luck in the speed skating was in vain, returned to the short track, but the Olympic team could not get there, unlike the Kwak Yoon GI.

While men’s short-track fever, Korean girls continue to keep the brand. Choi Min-Jeong and shim Seok-Hee (the first 19, second 20), have already won in this Olympic cycle for two two dozen medals at the world Cup and are the main contenders for gold Pyeongchang together with the returning team champion and Sochi in the relay Kim And Wounds.


Yet some seven years ago, Korea was officially registered only four sportsman. One of them was Kang Kwang BAE, who were entrusted with the honor to carry the national flag at the opening ceremony in Vancouver. May medals he never had, but the track record of the three sports sled, skeleton and bobsled, which he tried during his career, was impressive. After speaking at his fourth Olympic games-2010 37-year-old Kang Kwang BAE has decided to retire. And because he was the only driver on the entire Korean team, that undertook to find a replacement.

Won Yong Jung has just finished University and was preparing to teach physical education when I heard about the bobsled. The idea of this sport, he was weak, but the prospect of becoming a member of the national team seemed very attractive. The tests determined the presence of his explosive speed and other essential qualities. Lacked only the size, but it was fixable: two months to 84 kg, he added another 20 with the growth of 182.

The first time work due to the lack of infrastructure was the General physical training, which later became known around the world as a “hellish training”. This is in principle well-known Korean practice, covering not only the sphere of sports: if you can’t catch up with rivals in one thing, we need to find something that you can become stronger than them by ten goals.

Note that at the beginning of the Korean athletes had to perform on/ear inventory purchased in Europe and even to rent the national team of Jamaica. Everything changed when, on 6 July 2011, Pyeongchang won the right to host the Olympics. Now the Korean car does not have enough space for advertisement, moreover he is designed by the best designers of Hyundai.

A real breakthrough for Korean bobsleigh was the 2015/16 season, which Won Yong Jung in pair with Yeon Woo won two gold, three bronze and won the overall world Cup standings. The pre-Olympic year, however, turned out not so successful, but there were objective reasons: equipment breakdown, injury, and death of a beloved coach. Malcolm Gomer Lloyd was a member of four Olympic games (1972, 1976, 1980, 1984), working UK, USA, Canada, Italy, Russia, was friends with Prince albert of Monaco, led the Korean national team after the Games in Sochi in 2014. Knowing he was dying, he ordered his Korean students medal engraved: “go for the gold Pyeongchang”.


Now Yoon sung Bina, who won the historic for his country world championship silver in skeleton at Igls-2016, more know as “Iron man” (the picture on the helmet). And six years ago he was just a regular guy. Sport in his life, attended only as a hobby, unless you count genetics: his father was a volleyball player, mother was engaged in table tennis. That all changed when one day in gym class the teacher drew attention to the fact, as easy 18-year-old boy with growth 178 doprygnet to basketball hoops. The teacher had friends in the National Federation of bobsleigh and skeleton, which recruited athletes. Yun Seong Bin, which could never have been in the winter resort, having trained for only three months, became the champion of Korea. However, at the launch ramp on a real track, he came in a month when the team left for a training camp in America.

– It all happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to get scared. – later recalled his first descent Yun Seong Bin. – I’m not lost control: flew out of the sleigh and fell hard on the gutter. But the more I got, the less fall – and the more I wanted to catch up with the best skeleton sliders in the world.

2014 in Sochi, Yun Seong Bin took 16 th place, and ten months after this second time in his career performing in the world Cup, he was on the podium. February 5, 2016 in St. Moritz Yoon sung-Bin became the first representative of South Korea, who won the skeleton world Cup. In the pre-Olympic season in eight of the Cup stages of the Korean skeleton never dropped below fifth place, won once and was second three times, including in March on the Olympic track in Pyeongchang, losing only titlewasnow Latvian Martins Dukurs.

But there still will be three months later at the Olympics. In skeleton, the expression “native walls help” is not only figurative meaning. A vivid confirmation of Dukurs. 33-year-old Latvian became four times world champion, seven times won the overall world Cup standings, but stayed in one step away from Olympic gold. The Vancouver 2010 lost one master track Jon Montgomery and Sochi 2014 – the other Alexander Tretyakov. Pyeongchang-2018 should be the peak of his approaching the twilight of his career and then out of nowhere appears a young Dream Bean, which is unashamedly to the whole world States: “Every day before going to sleep I imagine rise to the top step of the podium in Pyeongchang”.


Even the prospect of performing at a home Olympics forced the Olympic champion in Vancouver Kim to change his decision to end his sports career. After silver Sochi 2014, which many Koreans still believe was stolen by the judges in favor of the hostess of Games Adelina Sotnikova gold, 24-year-old skater had stated irrevocably: “I’m Leaving!”

To prepare a new Queen of the ice for four years, the Koreans did not, although it is likely that in Beijing in 2022 they will have something to present to the world. For example, Yu Yong that in 2016, 11 years old sensationally won the adult national championship, breaking the record of Kim that it was only 12. Or broadaway medal vastness Junior “Grand Prix” lim Eun-soo. But both are still too young to perform at the home Olympics.

But cha Jung-hwan, whose homeland is referred to as the male version of Kim for what he and Olympic champion, masterfully takes the lying camel spin and not only for this, without problems gets on Games in Pyeongchang, where according to the rules allowed skaters who, as of the first of July 2017 was 15. Another question is how competitive will be this guy in sixteen, and with the growing crazy pace the number of athletes performing different types of quadruple jumps.

Started baby cha even ahead of schedule Yuzuru Hanyu – the Olympic champion of Sochi and by the way, his older fellow training group Brian Orser in Canada. Yuzuru fourteen years to the debut of the Junior world championship was the 12th (2009), cha Joon hwan is the seventh (2015). At the second attempt the Japanese won the gold, however, without a Quad (2010). Cha, who has just turned fifteen at the end of October 2016, at the beginning of last season showed a quadruple Salchow (trains also toe loop and loop). And not just demonstrated, he has won his first stage of “Grand Prix” among juniors. Moreover, with the Junior world record in the two programs – 239,47.

But the Olympic season for cha Jung-hwan did not start very well. Trauma, problems with the skates – as a result, he lost the first round of the national selection (second decider still to come), Lee Jung-Hyun, who, to his credit, was able to win a ticket to the Game at the September qualifying tournament in Germany. By the way, given that it also excelled in ice dancing and Min Yu RA with his American partner received the Korean passport Alexander Gallina (Choi Da-Bin two spots in the women’s figure skating earned at the world Championships in 2017), the Olympic hosts have all the chances to play in the team tournament.


Figure skating became one of the four sports in which Koreans went to the extreme, by their standards, measures, that is naturalization. In addition to the above mentioned Gemline Korean passport received world champion among juniors-2012 German sanochnitsa Aylen Frisch, as well as the Russian biathletes Alexander Starodubets, Ekaterina avvakumova and Anna Polina (later also joined Timofey Lapshin).

But if men while the stars in the sky are not enough, that the fair sex has already managed to make some noise. In August 2016 in otepää Molina won silver and bronze summer Championships Рfirst medals in the history of biathlon in South Korea. And 30 November 2016 in the first individual race of the world Cup for the new team took the 38th place and became the second Korean athlete in history who managed to score points.

Another page Molina entered its 18th place in the sprint at the world Cup in Hochfilzen. But this record stood for two days: as even more sensationally in the Top 5 in the individual race ran avvakumova. And some of them may well be, if not the second Anastasia Kuzmina, who became a double Olympic champion under the flag of Slovakia, as a minimum, the new Elena Khrustaleva, which brought Kazakhstan silver Vancouver. At least, that Korean record in the biathlon – 60-e a place-hwan Ben Te in the individual race at 20 km in Sarajevo-1984 will fall in Pyeongchang, certainly no doubt.

But then all went to the Korean ice hockey Association, thanks to the efforts of the new passports with the words “Dae Han Min Guk” received twelve representatives of North America (seven men and five women).

Although in the early 2000s people with clubs in Korea even did not take seriously. What to say if in 2011, when Pyeongchang was awarded the Games-2018 in the country officially there were 1880 players, for comparison, in the US during the same period, this number reached 500 thousand. When Lee Dong GU, the captain once the country’s only club “Annan hull”, asked how he assessed the prospects of the national team on the home Olympics, he replied: “If we are there and will admit, we with wooden sticks are going to fight against tanks.”

Lee Dong GU, probably, and he could not imagine that it will take some six years and he will be co-sponsoring the Korean miracle in Kiev, at least it was so in his homeland called the second place team at the world hockey championship in Division I-A, held in April this year in the capital of Ukraine. Korean players for the first time in its history reached the elite division, having the right to play at the 2018 world Cup in Denmark.

The same miracle is expected from the wards Jim peck and Pyeongchang. Recall that the born current coach of the Korean national team in Seoul, but raised in Canada. And became the first player of Korean origin, whose name was engraved on the Stanley Cup. For three and a half years of work on the historic homeland of the former defender of “Pittsburgh” has achieved such success that it already compares with the Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who led the football team of South Korea in the semifinals, home of the 2002 world Cup.

In October 2016 in the local rolling out a feature film about women’s hockey, or rather about how she has managed to put together an efficient team of former members of the short track and figure skating, as well as Schoolgirls, Housewives and a refugee from North Korea. In the English version it was called “Take off” and “Team 2”. Figure two stood in the name because it was a continuation of the film, released in 2009 on the springboard divers. The paradox will agree, these sports are by and large in this country, and as they the full movies shoot. In Korea generally, I like the sports theme: they even have whole series is about volleyball players, weightlifters, jumpers, fighters K-1, and eight series dedicated to life in Charyn is a Korean analogue of the Olympic base in Koncha-Zaspa. So, probably, are the theme of the upcoming Olympics, God himself commanded.


To complete the picture is missing two remarkable individuals. The first training track snowboarder Li Sa Ho steel snow-covered farmland in his native province of Gangwon-do. Since ten years, he regularly took part in competitions. However, no injuries have been treated. Once during the descent he hit his head so hard that even the helmet split. However, there were a few stitches, short-term memory loss and attempts to persuade the parents to focus on school, leaving classes snowboard only as a hobby. Fun it was not cheap, and any prospects not have a parallel discipline had just won their place in the Olympic sun.

In 2013, Lee sang-Ho made the national team of Korea, which under the guise of preparation for the home Olympics was invited to the coaching staff of experts from France and Croatia. In 2014, he first stood on the podium of the world Junior championship (silver in the parallel giant slalom). And a year later became the champion in this discipline and a bronze medal in parallel slalom. Also grew and its results in the world Cup. March 5, 2017, he won a historic one for Korea medal (silver) at the stage in Turkey. Then the same company on the pedestal it was teammate Choi Bo Gong.

In a separate program preparing for the Pyeongchang-2018 skier Magnus Kim. This 19-year-old boy over the last couple of years have done to promote ski racing in Korea, more than all his predecessors combined, and more specifically became the double champion of the Youth Olympic games in 2016, two-time world Vice-champion among juniors in 2016, and this year won the sprint within the FIS-start in Seoul, ahead at the finish no one else but the silver medalist of the Vancouver 2010 Russian Nicholas Morilov.

Magnus was born in a mixed family: his father is Norwegian, mother is Korean. Although twelve years old guy living at home with father, Korean all also speaks with an accent native to Busan. Doubts about the flag act was (Magnus at his age was one of the strongest in Norway), but in April 2015 he finally decided with sports registration and surname (mother) Kim.

– To win a medal in Pyeongchang is still more a dream than a goal. – sober look at things Magnus Kim – I understand that the heyday of the skiers comes after 20. But I really want to be for Korean skiing who became of figure skating, Kim A.

Anna SAVCHIK, Sport-Express in Ukraine


Athletes W With B All over the Place in the standings

Albertville-1992 23 2 1 1 4 10-e

Lillehammer-1994 24 4 1 1 6 6-e

Nagano-1998 38 3 1 2 6 9-e

Salt lake city-2002 48 2 2 0 4 14-e

Turin-2006 41 6 3 2 11 7-e

Vancouver-2010 46 6 6 2 14 5-e

Sochi-2014 71 3 3 2 8 13-e

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