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Ji Young-joon`s Solid Challenge for Athens

Posted July. 30, 2004 21:53,   


“Count me in.”

Runner-ups are always full of sorrows. However, the heartache makes the determination so outrageous for them to step to the top.

Korean marathon’s "Next Generation Runner" Ji Young-joon (23 years old, Kolon) has been overshadowed by all-star Lee Bong-joo (34 years old, Samsung Electronics) and was prevented from receiving the full spotlight. But his potential and the talent to grow are expected to surpass Lee Bong-joo’s.

Ji Young-joon is strongly determined to surprise the world in the 2004 Athens Olympics’ men’s marathon as he devotes himself to training, traveling to the United States and China, to try and overcome the sweltering weather of Athens, which kicks up to a high of 40 degrees Celsius, and with the effect experienced above sea level of 250 meters.

Ji Young-joon is the Korean marathon’s upcoming runner as he rose in the marathon field after finishing in second place (2 hours, 8 minutes, 43 seconds) behind Gert Thys (South Africa) in last year’s Seoul Dong-A International Marathon race in March. Ji is on an upswing as he placed sixth with a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 54 seconds in this year’s Seoul Dong-A International Marathon.

But Ji is still a foot short in passing Lee Bong-joo. Ji endured tough training at the high altitude of Albuquerque, 1400 to 1800 meters above sea level, in New Mexico, U.S. for 50 days from mid-May to help prepare to overcome the obstacles he’ll face in Athens. He returned to Yeongju City, Gyeongbuk Province at the end of June to take a short break and then flew to Kunming, China on July 16. The intention of the trip was also to maximize the effect of training on hilly areas of 1800 meters above sea level.

Ji Young-joon focused on endurance, which is the key point for the race in Athens, during his 70-day training program. Also in Albuquerque, Ji implemented training while getting abreast with the Kenyan players who excel in race management. Ji also spared a lot of time concentrating on acquiring trot techniques needed for steep courses.

Kolon coach Jung Ha-joon commented, "He passed the training satisfactorily without any injuries. We`re planning to implement training to recover his race senses through road and track runs at Kunming as he has completed his build up of strong physical strength via cross country training in Albuquerque. The results will be good."

Ji Young-joon and Coach Jung will return to Korea on August 7 and will take a long flight in a plane specialized for the Athens team on August 11. Ji Young-joon will not join the rest of the Athens squad in the players’ village in Athens but will settle in a separate quarter for adaptation training, and on August 29 at 18:00 (local time), will cast a cartel for the ambitious race.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com