Canoe team loses gold medal hopeful

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Canoe team loses gold medal hopeful

With fewer than 10 days remaining until the start of the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, the Korean canoe sprint team has lost its best gold medal prospect and its head coach.

The Korean Canoe Federation announced Wednesday that Shin Dong-jin, who was to team up with Kim Tae-eun for the C-2 (canoe double) 1,000-meter race in the men’s sprint event, has pulled out of the Asian Games because of a disc problem. Head coach Yoon Young-dae also withdrew himself citing chronic health problems.

Shin, 27, underwent surgery on Monday. He had complained of back pain following the tight fall schedule. He went through a training session in Hungary from July to late September and then flew home to enter the National Sports Festival in early October.

“We haven’t decided yet whether to pick a new head coach or to use [assistant] coach [Jung Jong-hwan] as the interim head coach,” said an official at the canoe federation. “We’re worried that this will affect the morale of the rest of the team.”

Lim Yong-hoon, an executive at the federation overseeing training programs, said unexpected things are bound to happen when athletes gear up for major events.

“We can’t avoid the situation as it is, and we will have to prepare the best we can,” he said.

Without Shin, Kim will enter the C-1 (canoe single) 1,000-meter event instead, said Jung.

The federation had tapped the tandem of Shin and Kim as its brightest gold medal prospect among about a dozen athletes.

Together, they won the 2009 Asian Canoe Sprint Championship in the C-2 1,000-meter race in Iran, outpacing the runner-up by almost three full seconds.

This year’s Asiad opens on Nov. 12. Canoe sprint events are scheduled to start Nov. 22.

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