Women’s field hockey team brings home gold

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Women’s field hockey team brings home gold

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Members of the Korean women’s field hockey team celebrate after beating Russia, 5-0, to win a gold medal at the Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia, on Sunday. Courtesy of 2013 Kazan Summer Universiade

Korean women routed host Russia, 5-0, in field hockey at the final of the Summer Universiade on Sunday, bringing home the country’s first Universiade gold medal in a ball sport in four years.

Kim Jong-eun scored twice and Han Hye-ryoung, Park Seung-a and Cho Eun-ji added a goal apiece, completing a four-game sweep for Korea, the world’s eighth-ranked team, at the Field Hockey Center in Kazan.

Only four teams competed in women’s field hockey in Kazan, and Korea and Russia, the two best teams in the preliminary stage, faced off against each other in the final. Earlier on Sunday, Japan beat Belarus, 3-1, at the bronze-medal decider.

Korea beat Russia, 2-1, in the preliminary. It also defeated Belarus, 5-1, and Japan, 4-0.

“As soon as the game was over, it was like a dream come true and we were so happy with tears flooding out,” Kim Jong-eun was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency. “We are happier because we [almost] could not have competed in this event.”

Because of budget constraints, the Korean Olympic Committee decided to provide financial support for only one team, men’s or women’s, when it comes to ball sports. Ball sports are not Korea’s main priority at international competitions but sending teams to the events can be very expensive.

As a result, Korea sent only the men’s teams for basketball and volleyball and the women’s teams for football to Kazan.

In field hockey, however, both women’s and men’s teams participated at Kazan after the Korea Hockey Association decided to pay for the teams’ expenses.

Jung Rock-min, a secretariat of the Korea Hockey Association, said the association spent 100 million won ($89,100) to field both teams in Kazan.

“It was the first time hockey was adopted at Summer Universiade since the 1991 edition in Sheffield [England], and we wanted the players to get experience and confidence,” Jung said.

The Korean men’s team failed to win a medal in Kazan. They were scheduled to play South Africa in the fifth-place decider on Monday in local time.

The association hoped that the experiences in Kazan would prepare the men’s and women’s teams for the Incheon Asian Games next year. Both teams are aiming to win a gold medal in Incheon, Jung said.

The Korean women’s team finished eighth at the London Olympics.

“People were worried after we did not bring good results from the London Olympics,” said Korean women’s team coach Lim Jung-woo. “But, Jong-eun and Hye-ryoung led young players well.”

Meanwhile, with its 15th gold medal, Korea is in fourth place, behind Russia, Japan and China as of Sunday.



BY MOON GWANG-LIP [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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