Olympic laurelsThe South Korean athletes have given great joy to their country’s people with dramatic and staggering feats in this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The relative unknown Park Sang-young clinched gold in fencing in a dramatic comeback during the finals, and Korean shooter Jin Jong-oh recovered from his disappointment in the 10-meter air pistol event to win his third consecutive gold in the 50-meter pistol.
The Korean women’s archery squad showed how the sport is played by the world’s unrivaled team. They beat the odds and brought home gold for an eighth consecutive Games, winning every Olympics since the sport became an official medal event in 1988.
The men equally lived up to Korea’s formidable reputation in archery. The youthful trio of Kim Woo-jin, Ku Bon-chan, and Lee Seung-yun won the gold medal that eluded the Korean men’s archery team during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Park’s feat in men’s individual epee fencing was breathtaking. Park, ranked No. 21 in the world, was behind 14-10 in the final game, but he did not waver and eventually defeated world No. 3 Geza Imre of Hungary with a 15-14 score.
The young 20-year-old fencer kept his focus and fought through against his opponent, a 41-year-old veteran of the sport. He moved aggressively even though one misstep could cost him the game. He truly epitomized the strength and perseverance of young Korean athletes.
The epic turnaround of veteran shooter Jin was heartwarming. In the sudden-death round of the final, Jin scored a disappointing 6.6 out of a perfect 10.9 with his ninth shot. He later said that score was what really made him focus.
When Jin climbed back to the standings with two shots remaining, he was in a state of trance. His last two perfect scores earned him his third gold as well as a new Olympics record in the pistol category. We cannot but express awe and respect for Jin’s extraordinary self-control and concentration.
The athletes wearing the national emblem are fighting for their country and name. The news and scenes from Rio offer great joy and relief in this endless sultry summer. We wish the best to our team in remaining events.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 12, Page 34