중앙데일리

Another gold hush at Winter Asiad

China captures the most medals, Korea places 3rd

Feb 07,2007
South Korean speed skater Lee Kyou-hyuk races in the men’s 1,500-meter event at the recently concluded Asian Winter Games in Changchun, China. He won a gold medal. [YONHAP]
Northeast Asian neighbors continued to dominate the Asian Games, as China, Japan and Korea finished in the top three in the standings in the recently completed winter games. It is the fourth time those countries have placed in the top three in six Asiads.

This year, China captured first place for the first time since 1999, winning 61 medals, including 19 golds.
South Korea has never finished atop the standings at the winter Asiads, and it will have to wait four more years to try again. South Korea was third with 33 medals, including nine golds. It was the runner-up in the previous two Winter Games.
Much like the 2003 Asian Winter Games in Aomori, Japan, this year’s event received very little exposure and publicity here. None of the three major stations ― MBC, KBS and SBS ― televised the event.
When short track speed skating star Ahn Hyun-soo was disqualified in the men’s 500-meter finals on Tuesday for pushing China’s Li Ye, fans had to scramble to watch the highlights on Web sites. The clips came from a Chinese telecast.
Disgruntled fans bombarded message boards on the three Korean stations’ Internet homepages, complaining that the stations had deprived the fans of the right to watch live sporting events. The stations said they didn’t televise the games due to the low ratings they had received in the past ― hence, little in the way of advertising money.
On the ice, the Changchun games once again demonstrated South Korea’s dominance in short track speed skating. South Korean athletes grabbed four golds, five silvers and two bronze medals in the sport. Ahn made up for the disqualification with two golds and a silver.

South Korea’s female curlers won the gold medal over Japan in Changchun, China. The men’s team also brought home one of the country’s nine golds in the Asiad. [YONHAP]
South Korea relied on a limited number of sports.
The nation won another 13 medals ― three golds ― in speed skating, meaning more than 70 percent of all of the medals came from the elliptical ice surface. Korean skiers brought home three silver and bronze medals in the alpine events. The only other gold medals for South Korea came from men’s and women’s curling.
The Changchun Asiad will also be remembered for sloppy management.
In 1998, the Olympic Council of Asia introduced a rule to keep one country from winning all three medals in a discipline. But at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, two Korean athletes, Lee Mi-jung in women’s archery and Cha Mi-jung in women’s bowling, finished third in their respective events ― only to lose their bronze medals under the new regulation.
To prevent similar occurrences in the future, the council, the governing body of the Asian Games, wanted to limit the number of finalists per nation in a discipline to two. However, the organizing committee in Changchun overlooked the rule in some events.
In women’s 500-meter short track speed skating, China’s Wang Meng, Fu Tianyu and Zhu Mile came in one-two-three. Under the rule, only two of them should have skated in the finals, but since the race had already finished, the organizers awarded the bronze to South Korea’s Byun Chun-sa, who finished more than a full second behind Zhu.
Still, the medal counts listed both Byun and Zhu as the bronze medal winners.
Fellow South Korean Kim You-lim enjoyed the same fortune in the women’s 1,000-meter speed skating event, where she had the fourth-fastest time but got the bronze because the three skaters ahead of her were Chinese.
Another Korean athlete dealt with a different fate. Speed skater Choi Jae-bong came in third behind compatriots Lee Kyou-hyuk and Mun Joon in the men’s 1,000-meter event. Fourth-place finisher Takaharu Nakajima of Japan took the podium instead of Choi. Still, both were recorded as bronze medalists in the event.
South Korean medalists at international competitions receive a cash bonus of $200 for a bronze and can become eligible for a monthly pension payment from the Seoul Olympic Sports Promotion Foundation. An official from the organization confirmed with Yonhap News that Byun, Kim and Choi will all receive their incentives because official records list them as bronze medal winners.


By Yoo Jee-ho Staff Writer [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]


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