Record signing bonus for star judokaOlympic judo silver medalist and former world champion Wang Ki-chun will join a local city sports team for a record-breaking signing bonus of 300 million won ($267,000), his new team announced on Friday.
The 22-year-old, who won silver in the men’s 73 kilogram (161 pounds) competition at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and earned world championship titles in 2007 and 2009, will graduate from Yongin University next February and will join Pohang City’s sports team, according to the team.
The signing bonus breaks the previous record of 100 million won for a female judoka. According to local media reports, the Korea Racing Authority and Suwon City were some of the other squads interested in signing Wang, who is preparing for the Asian Games next month in Guangzhou, China.
“Wang is the biggest star in the sport of judo in the country. I appreciate his decision to join the Pohang City team,” Pohang’s coach Kim Jung-man said. “I’m sure he’ll put in the hard work but I’ll train him for gold at the 2012 London Olympics.”
The Jeongeup, North Jeolla, native came to national prominence in 2007 after defeating Olympic gold medalist Lee Won-hee in the national qualification tournament for the 2007 World Championships and 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He would go on to win first place at the 2007 Rio de Janeiro World Championships at the age of 19.
Municipal governments and local counties that run amateur sports teams compete fiercely to recruit high-performing athletes as a means to obtain subsidies from the country’s top governing body.
Better results at local sports competitions guarantee more cash rewards and bonuses from the Korea Olympic Committee.