Analysis: S. Korea sets low medal target for Beijing Winter Games
Web Editor:國際日報 International Daily News
by Xinhua writer Zhou Siyu, Lu Rui
SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- South Korea has set a low-key target of winning a gold medal or two for a top-15 finish at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
The low profile may help take some pressure off the South Korea Olympians and at the same time showed the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC)'s concerns for a series of issues that have plagued the country's short-track speed skating team.
UNCERTAINTY IN SHORT TRACK
South Korea has been the most successful country in Olympic short track history, with 24 gold medals and 48 medals overall. However, in the absence of women's top qualifiers, the short track team's trip to Beijing could be fraught with obstacles.
The five skaters representing the national women's team will be Choi Min-jeong, Lee Yu-bin, Kim A-lang, Seo Whi-min and Park Ji-yun, Yonhap news agency reported, citing the Korea Skating Union (KSU).
Olympic champion Shim Suk-hee, however, is not eligible for the Beijing Winter Olympics after the KSU suspended her for two months last month for disparaging her 2018 Olympic teammates and coaches in leaked text messages. As Shim lost her appeal for a court injunction against the ban on Jan. 18, her bid for a third straight Olympic crashed and burned.
Another promising short track speed skater, Kim Ji-yoo, who finished third behind Shim and Choi in the Olympic trials last May, has been ruled out with an ankle injury.
Despite these fallbacks, Choi expressed confidence in competing in the Beijing Winter Olympics.
"I know people are worried about how our short track team has been underperforming lately," Choi told South Korean media during a group interview in early January. "But we want to prove that (South) Korea is synonymous with short track speed skating."
The men's team will feature the top-five qualifiers from the Olympic trials, according to Yonhap. Hwang Dae-heon, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist in the 500m, will lead the way, joined by Lee June-seo, Park Jang-hyuk, Kwak Yoon-gy and Kim Dong-wook.
POTENTIAL MEDAL CONTENDERS
South Korea announced Tuesday it will have 63 athletes to compete in six sports during the Beijing Winter Olympics, a smaller number of athletes than those of previous Winter Games.
Figure skater You Young has secured her first trip to Winter Olympics by winning the Olympic trials with a combined 430.08 points.
The new face of South Korean figure skating expressed her hope to win a medal despite facing tough competition ahead. You told South Korean media that her goal is to deliver an acceptance speech in Chinese after a successful performance in Beijing.
Another potential Olympic medal contender, alpine snowboarder Lee Sang-ho is also expected to finish on the podium in Beijing.
Lee won a silver medal in the parallel giant slalom at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018, becoming the first South Korean to grab an Olympic medal in a snow discipline.
Moreover, the South Korean women's curling team that earned a silver medal in 2018 will fight for its second straight Olympic medal in Beijing.
"Just because the KSOC set a low target, it doesn't mean we won't win medals," Kim Seon-yeong of the team told South Korean media at a joint press conference in early January.
"If anything, it eases the pressure on us. We won't let (the low medal target) affect us, and we'll focus on winning a medal. In PyeongChang, we enjoyed success because we concentrated on the process rather than the result. We'll stick to the same approach in Beijing," the curler said.