Korean athletes get ready for Daegu

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Korean athletes get ready for Daegu

Korea finalized its team of 60 athletes yesterday for the upcoming World Championships in Athletics on its home soil, with track and field stars vowing to put on good performances before local fans.

The team held a launching ceremony at the National Training Center in Taeneung, northern Seoul. The signature International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) event is scheduled for Aug. 27-Sept. 4 in Daegu. The first-time host country will compete in 34 of 47 events.

Korea has never won a medal at a World Championships since they began in Helsinki in 1983. And it’s trying to avoid becoming only the third host nation to be shut out of medals. Its modest goal is to finish in the top 10 in 10 events.

Park Tae-kyong, the team’s captain entered in men’s 110-meter hurdles, said athletes are eager to showcase themselves before the home crowd.

“We’re all very determined, and I am confident we will put on an impressive performance and not disappoint our fans,” he said. “We’ve trained hard, and since the championships will be at home, we all have a different mind-set [than for other events].”

Park said training for the Worlds hasn’t been much more grueling than usual but the “psychological pressure” of preparing for a big event has made it seem more demanding.

“Having a good run will be up to how I can best cope with the pressure,” he said.

Chung Hye-rim, a female sprinter, is also considered a long shot. But at least she’s giving herself three chances. The 24-year-old is entered in the 100m, 100m hurdles and the 4x100m relay - more events than any other Korean.

She has said her biggest goal is to beat the national record of 13-flat in the hurdles. “I’ve been focusing on the world championships for a year, and I think I can set a good record,” Chung said. “Hopefully we will have a lot of home fans cheering on us in Daegu.”

Choi Yun-hee, a female pole vaulter, will look to break her own national record of 4.40 meters. She said she started training with a new pole last week and that’s boosted her confidence.

“I’ve adjusted to the new pole better than I’d expected,” she said. “Since the event will be at home, it will be relatively easy to maintain form.”

At the launching ceremony, Oh Dong-jin, president of the Korea Association of Athletic Federations (KAAF), urged the athletes to always keep their heads up.

“Even if you fail, don’t hang your head, and walk with pride” Oh said. “I hope you all try your utmost best until the end.”

This year’s championships are expected to be the largest ever, with about 2,500 athletes from 207 countries descending on Daegu. Yonhap

Park Tae-kyong, front, and other Korean national athletic team members chant a slogan during a launching ceremony at the National Training Center in Taeneung, northern Seoul, yesterday. [YONHAP]
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