Korea takes a step toward swimming’s top ranksKorea has never won a medal in an an Olympic swimming event, but in Athens, Nam Yoo-sun has hopes of one day changing that record. In a step in that direction, Nam, 19, has become the first Korean to compete in an Olympic swimming final.
At the Olympic Aquatic Center Saturday, she finished seventh out of eight contenders in the women’s 400-meter individual medley, after finishing eighth in the qualifying round.
There, she set a Korean record of 4 minutes, 45.16 seconds, which is 2.58 seconds better than the previous mark.
Although Nam’s finish of 4 minutes, 50:35 seconds at the final was far behind that of gold medal winner Yana Klochkova from Ukraine, with 4 minutes, 34.83 seconds, Nam has begun to rewrite Korea’s swimming history at the Olympics.
Nam was selected as a member of the national team in 2000 and placed 26th in the Sydney Olympics.
Then she switched her specialty to the 400-meter individual medley, which combines the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. “I didn’t think that I would produce such a good record,” Nam said. “In the final, I felt nervous because so many people were watching.” She said she suffered a bout of stomach trouble after she arrived in Athens.
Kim Bong-jo, the coach of the national swimming team, said, “Nam is hard-working and has good stamina and focus. If she could improve her freestyle and backstroke a little, she would be successful.”
Korean swimmers competed in the Olympics for the first time in Tokyo in 1964. The best result for Korea had been Koo Hyo-jin’s 11th-place finish in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke in Sydney.
by Special reporting team, Limb Jae-un
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