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The Race Walk Queen

Posted April. 22, 2005 23:41,   


Her 17th Korean Record in Her Lifetime-

The series of new records being set by Kim Mi-jeong (26, Ulsan Metropolitan City Hall) is truly astonishing.

The 34th National Athletics Championships took place at the Gwangju World Cup Stadium on April 22, where Kim Mi-jeong recorded a personal best of 1 hour, 32 minutes, and 15 seconds in the women’s 20-kilometer race walk, shortening her previous Korean record set in 2003 (1:33:03) by 48 seconds.

This newly set Korean record will mark Kim Mi-jeong’s 17th record since she first started race walking in March 1998. She has set eight records in the 20-kilometer race walk, five in the 10-kilometer event, one in the 10,000-meter event, and three in the 5,000-meter event.

This number of records is more than anyone in all of Korean athletics. It surpasses the 12 records set in the pole vault by “Flying Korean Beauty” Choi Yun-hee (19, Kongju National University) by a wide margin of five records.

Kim Mi-jeong’s personal record time is ranked 39th in the world, trailing the world record (1:26:22, Chinese Yan Wang, Russian Yelena Nikolayeva) by five minutes and 53 seconds. “I’m not quite flexible enough yet. I’m learning the stances of world-renowned athletes through videos. My aim is to win a medal in the 2006 Doha Asian Games after racing under an hour and 30 minutes,” she said.

Kim Mi-jeong entered the Paris 2003 IAAF World Championships in Athletics and the Athens 2004 Olympic Games as a member of the Korean national team, but was disqualified in both events. International umpires tend to warn or disqualify players on the slightest hint of illegal stance. Another gain that came for Kim along with her new record is her recovery from the apprehension of “committing another fault.”

With a 165 cm and 53 kg frame, she was a middle and long-distance runner during her time at Chungbuk Physical High School, and switched to race walking after joining the team of Ulsan Metropolitan City Hall in 1998.

Kim Mi-jeong, with no nationwide competitor to match her, is set for a lone fight. Her series of new records can be thus named the “silent cry” in women’s race walking in Korea.

Hwa-Sung Kim mars@donga.com