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Rising Star of Athens: Yoon Mi-jin

Posted July. 19, 2004 22:18,   


It was raining heavily on Friday as the Korean women’s national archery team warmed up for a practice game at the Korean National Sports University archery range. In the middle of the downpour, team member Yoon Mi-jin was struggling. She has had a severe cold for a week, and she kept coughing, afraid to take any medication for fear it might show up on a doping test.

In the end, she did not participate in the afternoon training session. It is rare for Yoon, who is known as a hard worker, to skip training. The coach of the women’s national archery team, Seo Oh-suk, said coldly, “It is better to catch a cold now than to catch one in Athens.”

Yoon told the assembled journalists, “You can’t write about my cold.”

When asked why not, she replied, “You know why.”

She does not want the people around her to worry. Although Yoon is young, only 21, the expectations of the people around her are enormous. Her body is so valuable that she cannot even catch a cold, which in turn is a burden for her.

“Four years ago, during the Sydney Olympics, I shot for gold without knowing anything,” she said. “But now, I’m going to the Olympic Games knowing a few more things, which makes it harder.”

Yoon has virtually no rivals. After the Sydney Olympics, she won last year’s New York World Championship, and the Athens pre-Olympic Games, both individually and in team competition. Even the Chinese or Italian archers, who might rival her, are still below her performance. She is undoubtedly the world’s top archer, although teammate Park Seung-hyun (Chunbuk Provincial Office) might challenge her for the gold.

Yoon summarized, “The stronger my opponent is, the stronger I grow, but if my opponent is weak, I also become weak.”

In fact, she said she was almost beaten by a weak opponent during the World Championship in New York, when she was almost eliminated in the first round.

Never has a Korean archer won consecutive individual and team gold medals in the Olympic Games. Yoon Mi-jin, whose motto is, “Live joyfully,” plans to achieve that feat in Athens. Afterward, she plans to go unencumbered on blind dates for the first time in the three years since she came to university, Kyunghee Uni. Department of Sports Leadership Studies.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com