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Run for Your Life, Bong-joo

Posted August. 27, 2004 21:57,   


Dear Bong-joo, my friend,

Now the only thing left to do is to run the marathon. Frankly, I am not sure if I should say this as a friend, but I write a few words, sincerely hoping that you will win the gold medal.

An Olympic marathon gold medal is honest. It tests the human limit under equal conditions and contains the true spirit of the Olympics. It is that much harder to attain victory.

There has been a lot of talk about “hell’s course” and “blazing weather,” but there is no real meaning – the conditions are the same for everyone. In the women’s marathon held on August 23, who would have ever guessed that Japan’s Mizuki Noguchi would win instead of the world record holder, Paula Radcliff (England).

I think you have two choices for this race: Stay with the lead group no matter what, or stay behind in the second group from the beginning. With the first choice, you can hunt for the gold medal, but if you over-pace yourself, you can fall out of medal contention and even out of the top 10. As you know, the other choice will give you a good possibility of winning a medal, but the gold will be out of reach. The choice is yours.

I run, thinking, “This is the last time.” I think the same way while training. During the Barcelona Olympics, I gave it my all, thinking, “I will retire after this race.” I felt like I was at my last breath climbing Montjuic hill, but because I was ready for death, I was able to beat Morishita Koichi (Japan).

Recently you have shocked the public by saying, “I will continue to run after the Athens Olympics.” Continuing to run even after 31 laps of the full course… but this is no time to think of plans after the Olympics. Everything must be put on the line for this Olympic marathon.

We are now both 34. At the end of last month when I saw you training at Gangwon Pyeongchang County, Hoenggye, I felt, “Even Bong-joo is no longer like the way he was in the old days.” A lot of time has passed. I wonder if this is your last chance for the Olympic gold.

Bong-joo, it has already been 20 years since we first met as high school rivals. Whenever I see the image of you sweating with devotion in stony silence, I bow my head.

So that your sweat will not be in vain, I sincerely hope as a friend that you will run for your life, and present Korea with a glorious gold medal.

Have strength, Bong-joo.