August 22, 2006 20:59
At the Taereung National Training Center in Seoul's Nowon-gu hangs a huge banner stating the desires of Korea’s national sports teams. "The sweat that falls at Taereung: for the people, dreams and courage; for the homeland, honor." The vigor and passion of some 300 athletes there to train in 16 fields including boxing, judo, weight-lifting and archery are almost as fiery as the summer heat with only 100 days to go until the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.
"Since it's something I have to do anyway, thinking that it's too hard or that I'm hurting too much only makes it impossible to bear,” says Kim Young-ran, a 48 kg-class judo fighter. She vows that Doha will be the stage for her to fulfill her golden dreams that turned silver four years ago in Busan. “It's true that winning a gold medal involves luck, but the fact that I didn't take even a day's rest for the last four years will be my foundation,” she adds. The boxing team, which was in Taebaek Gangwon-do for two weeks, has also returned to the center and is in the midst of weight training. The team leader, Oh In-suk says, "Before full-fledged technical training in September, we are putting most of our energy into building up our strength including cardiovascular exercise." Korean boxers aim to take home two gold medals. Lee Ok-sung, who took gold at the world championships last year, said, "All the athletes are putting everything into bringing glory to Korean boxing."
Meanwhile, at the archery range, only the whir of flying arrows breaks the silence. The "world's best," Korea's archers have vowed to give their competitors no chance to get the drop on them. Of course, they aim for a sweep: gold in both the men's and women's individual competitions as well as the group competition. To achieve that aim, they use movement analysis with precision cameras and simulation drills that replicate what are thought will be the exact conditions of the competition venue.
"It would be good if I just perform at the level that I trained," says Lee Tuk-young, the 17-year-old schoolgirl archer. Weightlifters who are wrestling their barbells day in and day out are also being aided by cutting-edge technology. Surrounding a platform that looks just like the real competition space are five high-powered cameras. Capturing every movement of the athletes from head to toe with the cameras, the coaches and athletes put their heads together to try to formulate a plan to increase the lift by even just 1 kg. Jang Mi-ran, who holds the women's record in the over 75 kg weight class, showed golden confidence: "More important than the results of the competition is that I want to go up against my own records."
Korea's goal is to come in second place overall after China. Korea will not be able to top the medal count from Busan four years ago (96 golds, 80 silver, 84 bronze) but the team looks prepared to beat out Japan again. Training support director of the athlete's village Baek Hyun-seop says, "There is nothing especially that changes because it's one hundred days out. We will do our best to make sure that athlete's see the results that reflect all their hard work."
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