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Ambitious Rookies

Posted February. 15, 2005 22:40,   


“Rookies run.”

Next-generation runners are full of energy to make the 2005 Seoul International Marathon (co-hosted by Korea Athletic Federation, Seoul City, and Dong-A Ilbo) scheduled for March 13 as the setting for their stage.

Lee Myeong-seung (Samsung Electronics) and Um Hyo-seok (Konkuk University) are the Korean runners who dream of being “a second Chung Nam-gyun” (the winner of male section of the competition in 2000) in this year’s Seoul International Marathon in which foreign runners are expected to excel.

Lee Myeong-seung (26), who was in the shade of the reputation of Lee Bong-joo, a senior team member, is determined to open a “post-Lee Bong-joo era” by achieving a time in the two hours and 10 minutes range in the competition, although his current personal record is two hours 13 minutes and 42 seconds. He ranked 41st with two hours 21 minutes and one second in last year’s Athens Olympics, but that was a valuable experience for him. Expectations for him are higher than ever, as he faithfully completed winter training in Jeju, Goseong in South Gyeongsang Province, and Japan. His strength is his long endurance.

Oh In-hwan, coach of the Samsung Electronics team, expressed confidence, “Spurt ability in crucial sections that has been pointed out as a weak point has improved by focusing on enhancing players’ physical strength during this year’s winter training,” adding, “The two hours and nine minutes range is attainable by this year.”

Um Hyo-seok (21) is training hard at Konkuk University, also called a “marathon academy.” He is a promising runner who is being nurtured for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He is talented enough to have swept medium- and long-distance competitions in nine high school races in 2002 as a runner of Baemoon High School. However, he has not completed a full course, which is considered shortcomings. Accumulating experience is what is mainly expected from him in this year’s competition, but there are expectations that he can achieve a “big thing” if he is in good condition. He surprised marathon insiders in the 2003 competition by competing for first place with the winner Gert Thys (South Africa) up to the 30km point.

For females, Chae Eun-hee (23, Kolon) challenges to be “a second Lee Eun-jeong (the winner of female section in the 2004 competition).”

Chae Eun-he, who used to be a medium-and long-distance runner until her high school years, started marathon running dedicatedly in 2000 by joining the Kolon team. This is her third challenge for a full course, but her record is improving at a surprising rate. In her first challenge for a full course, she finished in second place in the 2002 JoongAng Seoul International Marathon with a time of two hours 41 minutes and 37 seconds. A year later, she shortened the record by almost 10 minutes in the 2003 competition with a time of two hours 31 minutes and 38 seconds.

Sang-Ho Kim hyangsan@donga.com