Facing an uphill battle at the Asian Games

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Facing an uphill battle at the Asian Games


From left: Kim Seo-yeong races in the women’s 400-meter individual medley on Tuesday. The Korean national baseball team trains at Jamsil Baseball Stadium on Tuesday. The Korean women’s football team celebrates after a win against Indonesia on Tuesday. [YONHAP]

Team Korea has taken some hits during the first few days of the 2018 Asian Games but it hasn’t finished fighting yet. Despite some difficult losses, Korea will enter this weekend hoping to pick up a slew of medals in some of its best events.

As of Thursday 7 p.m., Korea has won 15 gold medals, holding third place in the table. Fifteen medals might sound like an impressive achievement, but for Team Korea it’s not a great result at all. Korean athletes have failed to defend titles in events that they traditionally dominate.

Before the start of the Games, the Korean taekwondo team set a goal of at least nine gold medals, but ultimately failed to perform. Despite having won two golds in the newly added poomsae events, Korea has only won three other golds in kyorugi events as of Wednesday.

Korea didn’t see its usual success in fencing, either. The Korean men’s epee team failed to defend their title for a fourth time by losing to China in the semifinals. The women’s foil team had equally bad luck, failing to defend their title by losing to Japan 45-36 in the semifinal on Thursday.

It wasn’t all bad news - the women’s sabre team took gold on Wednesday night.

For the first time in Asian Games history, the recurve women’s individual final in archery will not include a single Korean archer.

Korea has been the all-time leader in archery at the Asian Games, having won 38 gold medals. Prior to the Games, the team hoped to sweep golds in all the events but failed to do so. Top ranked archer in women’s recurve Chang Hye-jin was eliminated in the quarterfinals while Kang Chae-young lost in her semifinal.

Although there have been some disappointments, Korea is likely to add a slew of medals over the weekend.

Swimmer Kim Seo-yeong has set her sights on winning a second medal at the Asian Games today, in the women’s 200-meter individual medley. On Tuesday, Kim got off to a strong start by winning silver in the women’s 400-meter individual medley after finishing her race at four minutes and 34.58 seconds, 2.85 seconds behind gold medalist Yui Ohashi of Japan. Four years ago at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Kim barely missed the podium after finishing fourth in the event.

Expectations are higher in the 200-meter individual medley, as Kim enters the event as the national record holder, at 2 minutes and 08.61 seconds in the national team tryout. To win gold, Kim will have to beat Ohashi.

In the newly added sport climbing, Kim Ja-in is aiming to make an impressive debut by winning gold in the women’s combined event. Though the two-time IFSC World Championship champion’s main event is lead, she will make her debut in the combined event, as lead is not competed as a single event. The majority of Kim’s international victories have been in lead, but she has had some success in the combined event, winning two golds at the World Cup and a gold at the World Championships.

The Korean women’s football team will compete in its first knockout stage, against Hong Kong in the quarterfinals today. The women’s team got off to a strong start by winning all three of its group matches.

The women’s team started with a 2-1 victory over Taiwan, 8-0 win over Maldives and finished a huge 12-0 victory over Indonesia.

The Korean baseball team will start its competition with a group match against Taiwan on Sunday. Korea will be competing to defend their title for a third time.

BY KANG YOO-RIM, PIH JU-YOUNG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]
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