Park chosen No. 1 athlete for 2010: Poll

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Park chosen No. 1 athlete for 2010: Poll

Swimmer Park Tae-hwan was selected as the top Korean athlete of 2010 in a national survey announced Tuesday.

In the survey of 1,701 Koreans conducted by Gallup Korea from Nov. 17 to Dec. 7, Park garnered 61.6 percent of the votes for top honors.

The 21-year-old swimmer won three gold medals and seven medals overall at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in November. The performance capped off a comeback from a dismal showing at the 2009 world championships, where Park failed to make the finals in the three events he entered, only a year after he won the gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle and silver in the 200-meter freestyle at the Beijing Olympics.

Last year, Park scored just 14.5 percent in the same survey to rank third.

This year, Park dethroned female figure skater Kim Yu-na, who was No. 1 from 2007 to 2009 but slipped to No. 2 this time at 50 percent.

In February this year, Kim won the gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, becoming the first South Korean to win an Olympic figure skating medal, and finished second at the world championships the following month.

But the 20-year-old had an ugly, public split with her coach, Brian Orser, in August. She has not skated competitively since the world championships and won’t take the ice until next year’s world championships in March.

Park Ji-sung of Manchester United in English Premier League football earned 35.6 percent for his fourth straight top-three finish. Park Tae-hwan, Kim and Park Ji-sung have been in the top three from 2007 to 2010.

Major League Baseball outfielder Choo Shin-soo was fourth, after putting together his second straight season of at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.

Lee Dae-ho, an infielder for the Lotte Giants in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), the top domestic league, ranked No. 10, becoming the first local baseball player to be among the top 10 in this survey.

He was voted the most valuable player of the KBO in 2010 after leading the league in seven offensive categories, including home runs, RBI and batting average.

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