Emotional day for shooters at ParalympicsThe first day of the shooting competitions at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games saw tears of joy and sorrow for Korean athletes.
Her Myung-sook, 48, finished behind Manuela Schmermund to win the silver medal in women’s R2 10-meter air rifle on Saturday.
“I feel so moved,” said an emotional Her. “My life has been harsh.”
But Kim Im-yeon, a three-time gold medal winner in shooting in previous Paralympics, could do no better than sixth this time around.
Kim, who suffered from polio at the age of 4, wept while watching Her accept the silver medal. “I felt so much pressure to become a four-time gold medalist,” Kim said.
Her’s difficult life began when she was born to a poor farming family in Uljin, North Gyeongsang province. When she was six, she was diagnosed with polio, which caused paralysis from the waist down. Because of the disability, the future silver medalist was unable to attend school, and at 28, she left her parents to become independent.
She worked in factories until 1992, when she began shooting at the Jeongnip Center for Rehabilitation and Independence. Her’s skills improved quickly under the guidance of coach Lee Gwan-chun. She won a first medal, silver, at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, but came home empty-handed from the 2002 Sydney Paralympic Games.
Although the government sponsors Her for international events, she’s had to pay her own way to domestic competitions. To do so, Her took on different part-time jobs and saved her money for training and domestic competitions, but periodically she had to stop training when the money ran out.
“After the last shot, I knew I would win a silver medal,” Her said. “Then I thought of my mother, who died five years ago after carrying the hardship of having a disabled daughter.”
by Shin Sung-sik
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