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Yang Tae-young Lands in First Place in His Comeback

Posted December. 14, 2004 23:00,   


Once again, it was the parallel bars, that very category which caused a huge scoring-error scandal in gymnastics at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

However, Yang Tae-young confidently showed off his skills in his main event. He chose a routine that had starting value of 10.0, and continued on with an impressive performance.

The only flaw came at the landing when his feet went a step further after the first landing, and it cost him 0.1 to 0.3 points. He received 9.5, the highest score among the gymnasts in the same group.

The screening round for the 2005 men’s national team in gymnastics was held on Tuesday in the gymnasium at the Taereung Training Center. It was Yang’s first appearance in a competition in four months after the 2004 Athens Olympics. Yang received good scores in all six fields: floor, vault, parallel bars, pommel horse, rings, and high bar, and made it to the national team, beating Kim Dae-eun, the 2004 Olympic silver-medallist in the men’s all-around competition by just 0.1 point.

Yang’s score was 56.20, and Kim received 56.10. Third place went to prospect Kim Seung-il of Hanyang University, who finished with 54.55 points. After the competition, Yang said that he was pleased with the results, considering the fact that he has not been training intensively due to an injury to his right shoulder.

Yang is the unfortunate hero of the Athens Olympics. Despite executing a routine with a starting value of 10.0, the panel of judges mistakenly gave him 9.9, and this eventually led to the deprivation of Yang’s gold medal. As a result, the gold medal was awarded to U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm, and Yang was given a bronze medal. The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) later admitted an error, and the Korean team appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but its claim on the gold medal was rejected.

Lee Joo-hyung, then coach of the men’s Olympic squad who currently studies English in Victoria, Canada, came to watch Yang play. “I learned a lot from the incident. Gymnasts and coaches should have a thorough knowledge of the rules to prevent similar cases from happening again,” Lee said.

Yang, who finished first in the national team selection round, is likely to encounter Hamm in next year’s World Championship in Australia.

However, Yang does not have anyone in mind as his rival whom he must beat, because gymnastics is all about battling against oneself. “My goal is to train harder to get in a better shape, and take my gymnastics one level higher,” said Yang.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com