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Korean Wins Speed Skating Bronze

Posted February. 15, 2006 04:43,   


Lee Kang-seok (21, Korea National Sport University) was a virtual unknown before winning the bronze medal in men’s 500m speed skating at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics yesterday morning. The last time Korea won a medal in speed skating was 14 years ago at the 1992 Albertville Olympics when Kim Yun-man won a silver medal in the men’s 1000m competition.

Lee was just one skater among many with potential a few years ago. It was Professor Jeon Myeong-gyu at Korea National Sport University who trained him to become an Olympic medallist.

Lee started skating when he was seven years old. When he attended Uijeongbu High School in 2001, Lee set a record at the President Cup competition in the men’s 1000m event, as well as in the 500m and 1000m races at the 2002 National Sports Festival. But even then, Lee was never called anything more than an athlete with potential.

Lee’s performance improved greatly after he entered Korea National Sport University in 2003 and started to train under Jeon. Jeon uses short-track training methods, which helped Lee develop better balance and cornering skills.

Meeting the Japanese-

Lee took yet another leap when he met with Japanese coaches and speed skaters, who considered to be the world’s best in short distance speed skating. In 2004, Lee met Olympic silver medallist coach Toshiyuki Kuroaiwa at a skating competition held in Calgary, Canada and trained with his Japanese athletes. This experience focused Lee’s ambitions on the world arena. On his laptop computer, Lee started playing race videos of Joji Kato, a world-record holder in speed skating, and analyzed his movements.

After making the national team, Lee won a bronze medal at the 2005 Innsbruck Winter Universiad Games, and set a Korean national record of 34.55 seconds at the 2005 Salt Lake City World Cup.

“My goal was to make the top five here. What a thrill it is to win a bronze medal,” said Lee with a big smile.