After showbiz stint, skater back on ice

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After showbiz stint, skater back on ice

Apolo Anton Ohno won’t be coming to Korea anytime soon. But Kim Dong-sung, who quit the national short-track speed skating team in April for the talk show circuit, is on his way back to the ice.
Mr. Kim, 23, first landed in the spotlight after being disqualified in the 1,500-meter short-track at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Though he crossed the finish line first, the referee ruled that he had improperly blocked Mr. Ohno and awarded the gold to the 19-year-old American.
Mr. Kim, who clinched six gold medals at the World Championship last April, started practice again last week with his former trainer, Chun Myeong-gyu. The skater’s first goal is making the cut for the national team, whose members will be announced next spring.
It’s 6 a.m. in front of the indoor skating rink at Korea National Sport University in Jamsil, Seoul. Two people clad in black training outfits are preparing for a workout. Mr. Chun, who is also a professor at the school, has mounted his bicycle; Kim Dong-sung gears up for a run.
After a few laps around Olympic Park, the two head over to the ice rink building, where Kim spins on a stationary bike for another 30 minutes. He then wraps up his morning regimen by lifting some weights.
In the sports world, the popular wisdom is that once you’re in showbiz, it’s hard to go back. An athlete’s strict lifestyle and challenging training routine run directly counter to life in the entertainment world.
Mr. Chun thinks his pupil’s chances of a comeback are good. “In 2001, when he had knee surgery, many believed he was finished. But look what he’s done.”
For the next few months, Mr. Kim’s days will be more or less shaped around his workouts. Two hours of morning training will be followed by another three to four hours of skating or running in the afternoon.
The skater’s ultimate goal is gaining a berth to compete at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
“I was making money fairly easily when I was appearing on TV shows, but I was never really comfortable,” Mr. Kim says. “This is where I belong.”

by Brian Lee
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