Korea hopes for 13 golds in Olympics

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Korea hopes for 13 golds in Olympics

Korea should be good for at least 13 gold medals at next year’s London Olympics, the head of the National Training Center said Wednesday.

Park Jong-gil, who is in charge of the Seoul-based training grounds for Olympic athletes, said the country could match its performance at the previous Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008, when it won 13 gold medals to finish in seventh place. It was the country’s highest gold medal total at a Summer Games.

“It’s possible we can even surpass what we did at the Beijing Olympics,” Park told reporters during an open house event at the center, north of Seoul. “We hope to sustain our dominance in taekwondo and archery, our traditional gold mines, and also take titles in wrestling, boxing and gymnastics.”

With the 2008 Olympics close by in China, Korean athletes didn’t have to travel far and jetlag was never an issue. Also, baseball, where Korea won a gold medal, is no longer an Olympic sport.

Park, a former national team shooter, said other athletes will pick up the baseball team’s slack. He expects up to five gold medals from taekwondo and archery, the two sports where the country took six golds in 2008. Park is also counting on two gold medals each in judo and shooting; one each in badminton, fencing, swimming and gymnastics; and one or two titles in wrestling.

“The athletes are going through tailor-made training regimens,” Park said. “During the Olympics, we will set up a local training base to support our athletes.”

The Korean Olympic Committee has pledged to spend 1.2 billion won ($1 million) to open a camp at Brunel University in West London during the London Games. It will be the first such facility for Korean Olympic athletes and will include training facilities, restaurants, medical rooms and physical therapy centers. Yonhap

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