Skating medalist chooses tough road
Lee became the first Asian skater to win gold and silver in long-distance speed skating events by placing first in the 10,000 meters and second in the 5,000 meters, but today he is training hard in short-track speed skating.
The athlete is currently training with Korea National Sport University’s skating team. He left the national team training camp so he could work on his skills on both the long and short track.
Despite earning two medals in long-track events at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Lee started his skating career on the short track. Although he was one of the top skaters in the ultra-competitive short-track speed skating national qualification event in April, he failed to qualify. Desperate for a shot at competing at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Lee switched to long-track speed skating. The experiment proved a huge success, but he still hopes to compete in short track.
“I want to challenge for a medal in a short-track speed skating event,” Lee said in a recent interview with Ilgan Sports.
Determined to achieve his goal, Lee worked hard during the month of March when other winter athletes were taking a break after the Olympics.
“I have the desire to compete in both events,” said Lee. “I am training in both long-track and short-track speed skating events, but it’s not a decision that can be made in haste. It isn’t easy for an athlete to compete in two different events. It’s physically demanding. I will have to wait and decide later.”
However, Lee was also cautious about any future decisions, adding his training in short-track speed skating didn’t necessarily mean he has made up his mind already.
“Up until the immediate months before the Vancouver Winter Games, I trained in short-track speed skating full-time,” explained Lee. “I’m not training on short-track with competition in mind. Short-track training helps my speed skating.”
If Lee is to compete in both short-track and speed skating events, he will have to qualify for both. The national tryouts for short-track speed skating are in September, while the long-track national tryouts will be in October.
“I will definitely compete in the national long-track speed skating tryouts but will have to make my decision on the short-track tryouts after attending the KNSU training camp,” Lee said.
If the athlete decides to compete in both events, he will not be the first. American skater Shani Davis qualified for both short-track and long-track events at the 2002 Winter Games.
“Lee is showing a strong interest in both events. Considering there were skaters who have competed in both short-track and long-track events in the past, he is in a position to meet the challenge,” said long-track speed skating head coach Yoon Yui-joong. “Having said that, it will not be an easy feat. He needs to take the Asian Winter Games scheduling into consideration. He needs to move with caution.”
By On Nu-ri [firstname.lastname@example.org]