Korea aims at the top 10 and the gold at Olympics

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Korea aims at the top 10 and the gold at Olympics

With the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, less than three weeks away, South Korea, which is bidding to host the winter games 2018, is setting its sights on a top-10 finish and at least six gold medals.

“At the Vancouver Olympics, we want to win at least six golds for a 10th-place finish in the medal tally,” said Kim Jong-deok, head of administrative affairs at the national training center.

The games are scheduled to be held from Feb. 12-28.

South Korea ranked seventh in the medal standings at the 2006 Turin Winter Games, with a record six golds, three silvers and two bronzes, its biggest haul since the country won its first Olympic medals at the Albertville Winter Olympics in 1992.

The South Korean team is trying to enhance its medal standing as well as improve its sports diplomacy, as Vancouver may affect its bid to host the 2018 winter games. Pyeongchang, a mountain resort city located some 180 kilometers (111 miles) east of Seoul, has already lost to Vancouver and Russia’s Sochi in its two previous attempts.

South Korea has made four top-10 finishes at five previous Olympic Games, thanks to gold medal rushes led by the short-track speed skating teams.

The short-track squad has brought home 29 medals, including 17 golds out of the 31 overall medals South Korea has earned on the Olympic stage. It won medals in all 11 short-track events at the Turin Winter Olympics four years ago.

The 10 short-track skaters on the national squad are hoping to repeat the feat in Vancouver, but they’re expected to face keen competitors, including China. With three-time gold medalists Ahn Hyun-soo and Jin Sun-yu out injured, they are aiming at three medals to maintain their status as the country’s gold mine.

Athletes in other sports are also aiming for the gold. Reigning world champion Kim Yu-na is favored to win in the women’s figure skating event. After taking the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and the World Championships in early 2009, she opened the 2009-2010 season with record-breaking performances in the Grand Prix series.

Her overall score of 210.03 set at the Trophee Eric Bompard in October is far higher than the season best of her competitors’, including Japanese Miki Ando’s score of 185.94.

Kim is expected to break South Korean’s decades-old gold medal drought in figure skating, one of the most popular sports at the Winter Olympics.

Speed skaters are also determined to stand on top of the podium next month.

Lee Kang-seok and Lee Kyou-hyuk are in peak condition after undertaking six World Cup series competitions. As they stand first and second in the men’s 500-meter World Cup rankings, their sprints in Vancouver will be another rich vein of gold at the games.

South Korea’s squad is varied compared to previous Winter Games, with a total of 45 athletes competing in alpine skiing, cross country, ski jumping, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, biathlon, bobsled, and skeleton, as well as speed skating, short-track speed skating, and figure skating. The bobsled team will compete in both four-man and two-man events for the first time in the country’s winter sports history. Yonhap

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