Curlers sweep up silver medal

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Curlers sweep up silver medal


The national wheelchair curling team waves to the crowd at the medal ceremony held at the Vancouver Paralympic Center yesterday. The silver medal win is Korea’s first at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics and only the second ever Paralympic medal for the nation. From right: Kim Hak-sung, Kim Myung-jin, Cho Yang-hyun, Kang Mi-suk and Park Kil-woo. [YONHAP]

The Korean wheelchair curling team managed an impressive second-place finish after coming close to the gold at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics yesterday.

In losing to Canada 7-8 in the finals at the Vancouver Paralympic Center, the team earned Korea’s second-ever Paralympic medal and its first-ever medal in a team competition.

The only other Korean Paralympian to medal is seated alpine skier Han Sang-min, who earned a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake Games. The 30-year-old Han was a medal hopeful in this year’s alpine events but failed to reach the podium in Vancouver.

In a congratulatory message, President Lee Myung-bak said, “Competing in its first Paralympics, the wheelchair curlers’ silver medal-winning performance is a splendid achievement that will be remembered in the history of Korean athletics.

“The team’s passion and determination is an inspiration to the physically handicapped people as well as the entire nation.”

Facing the host country and favorites, Canada, the Korean squad put up a valiant effort until the very end, and nearly pulled off a shocking upset. Korea trailed the Canadian squad by as much as 1-8 at one point and mustered a comeback before falling just short of winning the match.

In an exciting finish, the home team had a two-point lead going into the final minutes. Canadian skip Jim Armstrong decided to play his hit on the second Korean counter and with two of Korea’s rocks in the house, or target area, Armstrong managed to make contact on one of the rocks.

The silver medal in the wheelchair curling event is Korea’s lone medal at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics with one day of competition remaining today. Led by skip Kim Hak-sung, the national wheelchair curling squad consists of Kim Hak-sung, Cho Yang-hyun, Kang Mi-suk, Kim Myung-jin and Park Kil-woo, who have been competing together for five years. Strong teamwork is believed to be one of the reasons for the squad’s success.

The team has trained and competed under less-than-favorable conditions over the years. With only two curling rinks in the country, the team made do with limited resources. On the same day, Korea defeated the United States 7-5 in the semifinals to advance. In the bronze medal match, Sweden beat the United States 7-5.

On the final day of competition today, Korea will be hoping for its second medal of the 2010 Paralympic Games from Im Hak-su in the cross-country skiing visually-impaired men’s one-kilometer sprint classic.

By Jason Kim []
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밴쿠버 겨울장애인올림픽 사상 처음 단체전 메달
“수영장 개조해 연습했어요”

국내에 도입된 지 7년밖에 안 된 휠체어컬링이 2010 밴쿠버 겨울 패럴림픽에서 한국에 패럴림픽(장애인 올림픽) 사상 첫 단체전 메달을 선사했다.

한국 휠체어컬링 대표팀은 21일(한국시간) 밴쿠버 패럴림픽센터에서 열린 휠체어컬링 결승전에서 홈팀 캐나다에 7-8로 석패했다. 4엔드까지 1-8로 뒤졌으나 7엔드에 6-8까지 추격했다. 마지막 8엔드에서 두 개의 스톤을 과녁 위에 올려놓으며 동점을 노렸다. 그러나 캐나다가 마지막 투석에서 한국의 스톤 한 개를 쳐내면서 금메달의 꿈은 사라졌다.

한국에 휠체어컬링이 도입된 것은 2003년이다. 장애인종합훈련원 수영장에 가설 컬링장을 마련해 훈련할 수밖에 없는 열악한 환경 속에서도 기량을 끌어올렸고, 7년 만에 기적적인 올림픽 메달을 따냈다.

5명의 컬링대표팀 선수는 올림픽을 통해 사람들에게 감동을 주고 자신들은 희망을 봤다. 주장 김학성은 “컬링을 할 때가 가장 즐거운 시간이다”고 했고, 부주장 김명진도 “세계 대회에서 다른 선수들과 기량을 겨룰 수 있다는 것이 행복하다. 컬링 빙판에서는 장애가 없다”고 말했다.
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