Special Olympians wow the Pyeongchang crowds

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Special Olympians wow the Pyeongchang crowds

With the 2013 Pyeongchang Special Winter Olympics already two-thirds through their eight-day run, several Korea competitors are inspiring sports fans with their athletic talents.

One is Hyun In-a, 14, who clinched her second gold medal in short-track speedskating on Saturday. She finished first in the women’s 777-meter final that day with a time of 1:25.17.

A day earlier, she won the host country’s first gold medal with a time of 53.48 seconds in the 500-meter final at the Gangneung Indoor Ice Rink. That was 11 seconds behind the world record of 42.609 seconds set by elite short-track athlete Wang Meng of China in 2008. Wang was 23 years old when she set the record.

Kathryn Saunders of Canada took a silver medal with 54.24 seconds, while another Korean, Kim Seung-mi, came in third at 56.31 seconds.

“Clocking around 53 seconds is an amazing record for a person who’s 14,” said Chun Lee-kyung, a four-time Olympic champion in short track.

“She doesn’t lag behind ordinary people in stable posture, speed and power,” Chun said.

Hyun is going for a third gold medal in the 333-meter final to be held today.

Kwon I-sak, 15, is also grabbing attention with his acrobatic stick handling in floor hockey. A member of one of the two Korean teams in floor hockey, he led the nation past the qualifying stage with four victories, one loss and one draw.

“I-sak started in this sport less than six months ago,” said coach Song Won-woo. “He’s better than many other players with no diabilities.”

More than 3,000 athletes from all over the world are competing in the Pyeongchang Special Olympics World Winter Games, the world’s biggest winter sports event for people with intellectual disabilities. It ends tomorrow.

By Kim Min-kyu, Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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