Lee Chae-won will be six-time Olympian and oldest member on Team Korea

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Lee Chae-won will be six-time Olympian and oldest member on Team Korea

Lee Chae-won competes in the women's 10 kilometer freestyle race at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games on Feb. 15, 2018. She finished 51st out of 90 contestants. [YONHAP]

Lee Chae-won competes in the women's 10 kilometer freestyle race at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games on Feb. 15, 2018. She finished 51st out of 90 contestants. [YONHAP]

 
Lee Chae-won is set to become a six-time Olympian and the oldest Team Korea athlete at the Beijing Olympics, having earned her cross country skiing berth on Monday in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, as she took first place in the Fédération internationale de ski (FIS) Far East Cup women's 5 kilometer freestyle.
 
The FIS Far East Cup was held at Alpensia Cross-Country Center in Pyeongchang and served as the Korean national team qualifiers for the upcoming 2022 Beijing Olympics.
 
Lee Chae-won crossed the finish line with a time of 14:33.8, 26.6 seconds ahead of runner-up Lee Eui-jin who will also be competing on the big stage.
 
Lee Chae-won is the most seasoned cross country skier in Korea, having already competed in five Olympics, starting with the 2002 Salt Lake Games and competing every four years until the latest 2018 PyeongChang Games where she finished 57th out of 62 players in the women’s 15 kilometer skiathlon race and in 51st out of 90 in the 10 kilometer freestyle race. She was 36 years old at the time and the oldest athlete on the entire Korean national team. Lee Chae-won’s best result came during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games where she finished 33rd in the women’s 30 kilometer freestyle.
 
In 2011, Lee Chae-won won the women’s 10 kilometer freestyle gold medal at the 2011 Asian Winter Games. She then went on in the 2017 Winter Games to win the women’s 10 kilometer freestyle silver medal, a 15 kilometer mass start silver medal and a team bronze medal.
 
Lee Chae-won had initially expressed her intention to retire from the national team after the 2018 PyeongChang Games, but changed her mind and earned another Olympic berth.
 
From left to right, Lee Chae-won, Jeong Jong-won, Kim Min-woo and Lee Eui-jin of the Korean national cross country ski team. [YONHAP]

From left to right, Lee Chae-won, Jeong Jong-won, Kim Min-woo and Lee Eui-jin of the Korean national cross country ski team. [YONHAP]

 
Alongside Lee Chae-won and Lee Eui-jin, Jeong Jong-won and Kim Min-woo will compete in the men’s 10 kilometer cross country ski event.
 
At the 2022 Beijing Games, Lee Chae-won will become the fifth Korean to have competed in six Olympics. The other four athletes are speed skater Lee Kyou-hyuk, snow boarder Choi Heung-chul and ski jumpers Choi Seo-u and Kim Hyeon-gi.
 
“I didn’t feel well on the first day [of the Far East Cup],” Lee Chae-won said after the tournament on Monday. “I felt better today, and I am happy to have earned an Olympic berth.
 
“To be honest, my realistic goal is to avoid finishing last at the Beijing Winter Games, but I will work hard to try and finish within the top 30.”

BY YUN SO-HYANG [yun.sohyang@joongang.co.kr]
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