Curlers sweep up silver medal
In losing to Canada 7-8 in the finals at the Vancouver Paralympic Center, the team earned Korea’s second-ever Paralympic medal and its first-ever medal in a team competition.
The only other Korean Paralympian to medal is seated alpine skier Han Sang-min, who earned a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake Games. The 30-year-old Han was a medal hopeful in this year’s alpine events but failed to reach the podium in Vancouver.
In a congratulatory message, President Lee Myung-bak said, “Competing in its first Paralympics, the wheelchair curlers’ silver medal-winning performance is a splendid achievement that will be remembered in the history of Korean athletics.
“The team’s passion and determination is an inspiration to the physically handicapped people as well as the entire nation.”
Facing the host country and favorites, Canada, the Korean squad put up a valiant effort until the very end, and nearly pulled off a shocking upset. Korea trailed the Canadian squad by as much as 1-8 at one point and mustered a comeback before falling just short of winning the match.
In an exciting finish, the home team had a two-point lead going into the final minutes. Canadian skip Jim Armstrong decided to play his hit on the second Korean counter and with two of Korea’s rocks in the house, or target area, Armstrong managed to make contact on one of the rocks.
The silver medal in the wheelchair curling event is Korea’s lone medal at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics with one day of competition remaining today. Led by skip Kim Hak-sung, the national wheelchair curling squad consists of Kim Hak-sung, Cho Yang-hyun, Kang Mi-suk, Kim Myung-jin and Park Kil-woo, who have been competing together for five years. Strong teamwork is believed to be one of the reasons for the squad’s success.
The team has trained and competed under less-than-favorable conditions over the years. With only two curling rinks in the country, the team made do with limited resources. On the same day, Korea defeated the United States 7-5 in the semifinals to advance. In the bronze medal match, Sweden beat the United States 7-5.
On the final day of competition today, Korea will be hoping for its second medal of the 2010 Paralympic Games from Im Hak-su in the cross-country skiing visually-impaired men’s one-kilometer sprint classic.
By Jason Kim [email@example.com]