With unexpected golds, 10-10 goal within reach
Korea won three gold medals early yesterday morning in judo, shooting and fencing, putting it on pace to reach its goal of 10 gold medals and a top-10 finish with more than 10 days of competition remaining.
Team Korea finished Day 5 with six gold medals, putting the country third-highest on the leaderboard behind China and the U.S.
Kim Ji-yeon won the women’s individual sabre final, the first-ever Olympic gold medal for a Korean female fencer.
It is Korea’s second Olympic gold medal in fencing in 12 years after Kim Young-ho won the men’s foil final at the Sydney Olympics. Song Dae-nam won the 90-kilogram judo final, adding another gold medal for the country’s judo team after Kim Jae-bum won a gold medal in the 81-kilogram division.
Kim Jang-mi won the women’s 25-meter pistol event earlier in the day, becoming the country’s first female shooter in 20 years to win an Olympic gold medal.
Before the London Games, Kim Ji-yeon, 24, was not a favorite in the country’s medal quest.
Nam Hyun-hee, who entered the Games ranked No. 2 in the world in women’s foil, finished in fourth on Sunday, and it didn’t look like the Korean fencers would win a medal at London.
However, after Choi Byung-chul’s bronze medal performance in the men’s foil event on Wednesday, Kim, ranked No. 5, beat World No. 2 Sofya Velikaya of Russia 15-9 in the final match.
“I still can’t believe this is real,” she told reporters after winning the gold. “It is like dreaming.”
In the semifinal, Kim defeated World No. 1 Mariel Zagunis of the U.S., who was aiming for her third straight Olympic gold medal.
Kim was trailing 9-3 in the semifinal against Zagunis, but came from behind for a 15-13 win. Jung Jin-sun added a bronze medal in fencing after beating Seth Kelsey of the United States 12-11 in the men’s epee event.
It was not an expected win for Song, either.
The 33-year-old, ranked World No. 15, beat Asley Gonzalez of Cuba, World No. 4. in overtime. Song also beat another event favorite, Masashi Nishiyama of Japan, World No. 3, in the quarterfinal.
“This was supposed to be my last Olympics, and I am happy that I could perform with little regret,” he said.
Kim Jang-mi, 19, recorded 201.4 points in the four-round, 20-shot final at the Royal Artillery Barracks, totaling 792.4 points overall.
Defending champion Chen Ying of China finished one point behind. Kim, who set a world record with 591 out of 600 on the way to the final, lost a lead to Chen in the third round, but overcame a 0.8 point deficit in the final fourth round.
“I thought of going to bed tonight with a silver medal, and it didn’t feel good,” Kim told reporters after the third round.
By Moon Gwang-lip [email@example.com]