Race for Korea’s IOC candidate begins

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Race for Korea’s IOC candidate begins

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The race for selecting the Korean candidate for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) membership has begun, with four Olympic medalists hoping to take the place of current member Moon Dae-sung.

The Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) said Friday that weight lifting great Jang Mi-ran, reigning gold medalist shooter Jin Jong-oh, table tennis champion Ryu Seung-min and fencing star Nam Hyun-hee have submitted their application to become members of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission.

Moon Dae-sung, the 2004 Olympic taekwondo gold medalist and current lawmaker, has been a part of the commission since 2008, when he was selected as the first Korean to serve. His eight-year term ends at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year.

The KOC said it will choose its final candidate for the IOC Athletes’ Commission by the middle of this month. The IOC’s deadline for candidate registration is Sept. 15.

There are 15 members on the Athletes’ Commission, and countries are only allowed one member. Although their term is only eight years, they have the same rights as other IOC members, including voting rights on Olympic host cities.

The final list of candidates will be revealed two months prior to the opening of the Athletes’ Villages in Rio de Janeiro. The election for four new members will take place during the Summer Games, and the winners will be announced before the closing ceremony.

The election comes at an important time for Korea, as the country will host the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. In addition, Korea’s diplomatic power within the IOC is up in the air, as Korean member and Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee has been hospitalized and unable to advocate for the nation for over a year.

Weight lifter Jang won gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a then-world record in the women’s over 75-kilogram (165-pound) class. The 31-year-old also took silver in the 2004 Athens Olympics and finished fourth in the 2012 London Olympics.

The four-time world champion is currently serving as the president of her Jang Mi-ran Foundation, supporting sports education programs to nurture young athletes and those from underprivileged families. She is also member of the Athletes’ Commission in the International Weightlifting Federation.

Jin has won three gold and two silver medals in the last three Summer Olympics. The 35-year-old was also named Shooter of the Year, selected by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) last year. The world record holder in men’s 50-meter (164-feet) pistol and 10-meter air pistol is also member of the ISSF Athletes’ Commission.

Ryu, who turns 33 on Wednesday, has competed in the past four Summer Games and won gold in the men’s single in 2004. He also has a bronze medal from 2008 and silver from 2012 for the men’s team events.

Nam is the only candidate on the list without an Olympic gold medal, but the 33-year-old fencer has a silver in the women’s individual foil from 2008 and bronze from the team event four years later.

The candidates have said that the selection of the final candidate shouldn’t be considered a competition because it is about representing the nation rather than achieving a personal goal.

“It’s kind of a pity when people say who should be the candidate and who should not be the candidate,” said Jang in an interview with JTBC, a broadcasting affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, last month. “It’s not about personal ambition, and whoever becomes the candidate will do their best."

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]
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