In fencing, volleyball and judo, Korea attains glory

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In fencing, volleyball and judo, Korea attains glory

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Taking it in stride - While heroes come under the spotlight during the Olympics, there are also those who experience the bitterness of defeat. Veteran foil fencer Nam Hyun-hee, far left, is on the floor after losing to Japan’s Shiho Nishioka in the round of 32 on Wednesday. Although devastated by the early exit at first, Nam eventually said she feels relieved and even glad to have participated in the last Olympics of her career. Nam’s teammate, Gu Bon-gil, center, was also knocked out of the event on Wednesday when he was defeated by Iran’s Mojtaba Abedini in the round of 16. Gu, who was a member of Korean men’s sabre team during the 2012 Games and won gold from the team event, said he was more nervous than he initially expected and that he was very disappointed by the loss. Korean judoka Kim Seong-yeon reacts after she was eliminated from the women’s 70-kilogram category. [NEWSIS] [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

The sixth day of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro was filled with good news for Korea.

Korea is still without a gold in judo, an event where it was believed the team would earn at least two. Even so, Korean judokas are still contributing to the success of the delegation as judoka Kwak Dong-han captured bronze in the men’s 90-kilogram (198-pound) category. In fencing, Kim Jung-hwan, a Korean sabre fencer, claimed bronze in the men’s individual sabre event, a second medal from fencing during this year’s Games. Finally, the Korean female volleyball team successfully paved its way to the quarterfinals by taking down Argentina 3-0 (25?18, 25?20, 25?23).

During the bronze medal match for the men’s 90-kilogram category at Carioca Arena 2 in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, Gwak went head-to-head with Swedish judoka Marcus Nyman.

As No. 1 in the world in his weight class, Gwak was one of several judokas who were thought to be sure-bets to wear gold around their necks. But, like his other teammates who are also ranked top in their respective classes such as An Ba-ul and An Chang-rim, Gwak, who is at his first Summer Olympics, was brought to his knees when Georgia’s Varlam Liparteliani claimed an upset victory by an ippon.

In the bronze medal match against the world’s No. 4 player, Gwak brought down Sweden’s Nyman with a shoulder throw to score an ippon.

In fencing on the same day, Kim, a 32-year-old veteran, edged Iran’s Mojtaba Abedini by 15-8 in the bronze medal contest at Caroica Arena 3 in Rio Brazil. A member of the Korean team that claimed gold in the men’s team sabre event, Kim’s tactic for the bout seemed to be an all-out attack. This strategy worked well for the Korean who took a 6-0 lead soon after the match started. The outcome of the bout was decided when Abedini tried to narrow the deficit but was unable to minimize the gap to less than five points -12-7 was as close as the Iranian got.

More news of victory came from the women’s volleyball team. Korea, led by Kim Yeon-koung, a wing spiker and leading scorer for the team, played against Argentina at Ginasio do Maracanazinho in Rio, their third game of the group stage. Just coming out of a 3-1 loss to Russia two days earlier, Korea needed a victory to sustain its chance in the quarterfinals and ultimately its shot at an Olympic medal, which has eluded the team for four decades.

While Kim Yeon-koung piled in 19 points for Korea, Kim Hee-jin added 17 to boost Korea over the South American team. The first and second sets were easy wins for Korea, which breezed past Argentina 25?18 and 25?20. But the team seemed to have lost its focus in the third set, as the team even gave out the lead to Argentina at one point by 11-15, the first time that the South American team took the lead during the day. Then came the Kim duo to the rescue, scoring back-to-back points and overturning the match to 17-16. The final score for the last set was 25-23.

Now with two wins and one loss, all Korea needs is one win from the remaining two matches against Brazil and Cameroon to advance to the next round. Korea will play on Sunday, Korea time, against Brazil.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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