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Kim Dong-Sung, Robbed of Gold

Posted February. 22, 2002 09:30,   


When Kim Dong-Sung (Korea Univ.) was disqualified in men’s 1500m short-track race on the 21st, judges declared `Cross Track` as the reason of disqualification. Cross Track is a kind of course interference that crosses the track intentionally in order to prevent the other athletes from overtaking.

Let us observe the situation. Kim and Anton Ohno (U.S.A.) were running first and second with the last half a round left. Then, Ohno attempted to overtake by cutting inward on the straight course. When Kim realized the intention, he kept Ohno in check as they approached the curve, and Ohno, then, raised his arms as if he was complaining to the judges that Kim intentionally blocked him. In the end, Ohno failed to chase Kim, and Kim penetrated the finish line first.

There are a few reasons when judges declare disqualification for `impeding`. The main one is making other athletes trip by pushing with hands. Also, when a rear athlete overtakes, the one ahead has the prior right, and the rear athlete cannot make a physical contact with the one in front.

However, such regulations can easily change due to decisions of judges. Analysts say that the Korean athletes became a `sacrifice` for the judges’ artifice in this Olympics.

Firstly, Korea’s Min Ryong was disqualified in men’s 5000m relay when he tried to dash forward, as U.S.A.’s Rusty Smith hit his arm and made him fall. The judges decided that Rusty had the prior right and it was fair for him to have protected his course.

However, such rule was applied the opposite in the 1500m finals on the 21st. The forerunner, Kim Dong-Sung, neither hit the rear runner, Ohno, with hands nor he made a physical contact. He only pursued the obvious short-track tactics to protect his course through restraint.

However, judges called for Kim’s course interference. `Athlete of misfortune` Kim Dong-Sung, who also fell at Li Jiajun’s foul play in men’s 1000m semifinals, became robbed of the gold medal this time as well, because of Ohno’s `action` and the biased judges on the U.S. side.

When the decision was changed while Kim was shouting in joy holding the national flag, he stood absentminded on the ice. He only said, "It’s unfair.", after the race and went back to the lodgings without an interview.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com