Korea's Athletics Championships Hopes Dwindle

      August 29, 2011 12:04

      Kim Hyun-sub crosses the finish line in the men’s 20-km race walking at the World Athletic Championships in Daegu on Sunday.

      Kim Hyun-sub gave it everything he had and collapsed immediately after he crossed the finish line, but his dream of winning Korea's first medal in the IAAF World Athletic Championships did not come true. In the men's 20-km race walking on Sunday, Kim clocked in at 1:21.17, placing sixth.

      Still, Kim was the first Korean athlete to finish in the top 10 in Daegu, and gave the best performance by a Korean since marathoner Kim Jae-ryong's fourth-place effort in 1993 and Lee Jin-taek's sixth place in men's high jump in 1999.

      Others who aimed at advancing to the final -- Park Tae-kyong in the men's 110-m hurdle, Choi Yun-hee in women's pole vault, and Jung Soon-ok in women's long jump -- failed to go beyond the preliminary heats.

      The goal of Team Korea -- achieving top 10 finish in 10 disciplines -- seems to be slipping away. Team officials originally expected athletes to produce good results thanks to the home country advantage and familiarity with the hot and humid summer climate. But already in the early stage of the championships, they are faced with the realization of the wide gap between them and world-class athletes.

      Korea now pins its hopes on Kim Deok-hyeon, another leading prospect in the men's triple jump who will also compete in the long jump, 21-year-old marathoner Jeong Jin-hyuk, and the men's 400-m relay.

      Race walking coach Lee Min-ho said, "There was a lot of support to our track-and-field athletes before the championships, but it was not enough for a dramatic improvement. Only long-term development and nurturing of athletes can narrow the gap."

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