March 12, 2018 10:46
Para Nordic skier Shin Eui-hyun earned Korea's first medal of the Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang on Sunday, winning the bronze medal in the men's 15-km sitting cross-country.
In fourth place with just 2 km remaining in the race, Shin came from behind to clock a time of 42:28.09 and claim the bronze medal. It is Korea's third-ever Winter Paralympics medal. Han Sang-min earned the silver medal in Salt Lake in 2002 in the men's giant slalom LW12, and the wheelchair curling team also won the silver medal in Vancouver in 2010.
Shin's Vietnamese wife hugged him after he crossed the finish line and cried tears of joy. Shin had both of his legs amputated below the knees following a car crash on the day before his graduation from university in 2005. The accident left him in despair, and he locked himself up in his room until, in 2006, his parents urged him to go to Vietnam to find a wife.
His wife was only 19 at the time, and she decided to marry him the day she met him. "I think I was so curious about living in Korea at the time. I didn't think his disability would be a big problem," she said. But it was difficult in the beginning. "I cried often because I thought it was a mistake coming to Korea. I couldn't speak the language, so it was difficult to communicate, and we often got into arguments." But she was resolved to make it work, as it was her choice to come, and she eventually adjusted to life in a new country.
Asked whom he was most grateful to in a post-race interview, Shin said, "My loving family." His wife said, "He endured so many hardships as a husband, father, and son, but I am thankful and very proud of the way he refused to give up and came so far."
Shin will compete for more medals this week. He is due to compete in the 12.5-km biathlon on Tuesday, the cross-country 1.1-km sprint on Wednesday, the 15-km biathlon on Friday, and the 7.5-km cross-country on Saturday.
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