In praise of Lee Sang-hwa’s grit

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In praise of Lee Sang-hwa’s grit

Lee Sang-hwa, the speed skating gold medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, set a new world record for the 500-meter race on Monday. She won the International Skating Union’s Essent World Cup at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, Alberta.

Her time of 36.80 seconds beat the previous record of 36.94 seconds set by China’s Yu Jing in Alberta last year. Lee also broke her personal best and Korean record of 36.99 seconds set in the first round of the competition on the previous day. She also won all eight races that she entered out of the nine-race season, beating the record of five consecutive wins set by German champion Jenny Wolf in the 2009-10 season.

Lee’s remarkable feat demonstrates the hard-working and adventurous spirit of Korean’s youth. She did not content herself with the gold medal she won at the Vancouver Games and pushed herself through tougher training. She lost two kilograms (4.4 pounds) but thickened her thigh muscles by three centimeters (1.2 inches) over the past two years.

The result was increased speed that helped her clock a new world record. We applaud the world champion’s undaunted spirit, modesty and selfless attitude.

Most of all, we respect her strength and willpower when it comes to training. Yoon Eui-joong, former head of the national speed-skating team, said that Lee is an exemplary athlete not simply because of her gold medal but also because of her concentration in training camp. It is Lee’s own efforts that led her to grow physically and mentally as one of the nation’s top athletes.

Her next goal is a second victory in the Winter Olympics. She stunned the world by coming in first at the 500-meter event in Vancouver three years ago, a first for an Asian athlete. If she defends her title in the next season, she will make history in international speed skating.

But regardless of what happens at the next Games, her unbreakable endurance and fearless spirit have already made her one of the most respected role models for young people that this country has to offer. We wish her the best of luck in her upcoming competitions.

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