Gold-medal rush after world misery for S.Korea

GUANGZHOU — South Korean judokas have turned their heartbreak from the world championships into a gold medal rush at the Asian Games through rigorous and disciplined training, they said.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 14 Nov 2010, 10:35 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:01 AM

They won three out of four gold medals on offer Saturday, almost hitting their target of the four titles they set out to claim over the four days of competition in Guangzhou.

South Korea, third in the all-time gold-medal standings at the world championships behind Japan and France, came home with just one men’s gold from the 2010 worlds in Tokyo two months ago.

“Our training has been extremely hard in the run-up to the Games. People who witnessed the training process had mercy on me,” said judoka Kim Soo-Whan.

“But my coach gave me some good instructions and I just followed them.”

Kim upset Japan’s open-weight world champion Daiki Kamikawa in the semi-finals and floored Beijing Olympic silver medallist Abdullo Tangriev of Uzbekistan in the final of the over-100kg, the men’s heaviest division.

“I didn’t have much confidence about winning the gold medal,” admitted the 22-year-old college senior, the 2009 East Asian champion, who crashed out in the first round at the Tokyo worlds.

Hwang Hee-Tae, who was knocked out by Azerbaijian’s Elmar Gasimov in the third round in Tokyo, downed world champion Takamasa Anai of Japan with a spectacular counter-attack in the final to retain the Asiad men’s -100kg title.

Hwang, 32, the 2003 world champion in the 90kg, quoted his coach as telling him: “Although you are comparatively old, if you try your best, you will succeed.”

Japan hauled a record 10 titles at the world championships in a comeback from a gold-medal drought at the 2009 edition.

“We researched their advantages and techniques,” Hwang said. “Even though we have a good start, we will not be self-satisfied.”

Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Jeong Gyeong-Mi, who claimed the women’s -78kg title by throwing down Akari Ogata of Japan in the final, said that training for Korean women had been toughened after they won no medal in Tokyo.

“Our coach was very strict with us and never allowed us to go out,” said the 25-year-old. “He promised that we could have a break if we could get a gold medal.”

It seems easy for South Korea to achieve the four-gold target in Guangzhou now through other hopefuls including Kim Jae-Bum, who won the men’s 81kg title in Tokyo, and Olympic men’s 60kg gold medallist Choi Min-ho.

Wang Ki-Chun, whose bid for a third straight world 73kg title was stopped by Japan’s Hiroshi Akimoto, is separated from him in a different pool here.

Japanese men’s coach Shinichi Shinohara lamented his squad lacked motivation after the worlds.

“Kamikawa and Anai have stopped short of pumping themselves up toward the Asian Games. I need to tell my men to refocus on the Games,” he said.

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