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“You Are My Dream”

Posted April. 28, 2007 03:07,   

한국어

“Brother, what you did is really great! Congratulations!” was the text message Lee Gwan-woo (29, Suwon Samsung) sent to Lee Bong-joo (37, Samsung Electronics) who won the 2007 Seoul International Marathon and the 78th Donga Marathon Competition held on March 18. It was a come-from-behind victory, because he was about 30m behind from the lead until last minute but came in first with a time of 2 hours 8 minutes and 4 seconds. Lee Gwan-woo was really happy for Lee Bong-joo, who many people believe should have retired a long time ago.

Lee Bong-joo is the source of inspiration for Lee Gwan-woo, and for Lee Bong-joo, Lee Gwan-woo is like his little brother who is realizing the dream he once had. Passion and hard work are common denominators linking the two. Lee Bong-joo wanted to be a soccer player when he was a teenager and Lee Bong-joo was a promising soccer player when he was a middle school student. He still is called “Ronaldo” among the athletes in the Samsung Electronics trekking team. When Lee is on the field playing soccer, he gets engrossed in the game and plays a full 90 minutes.

They met during the 2004 Olympic Games, and are like brothers now -

For Lee Gwan-woo, Lee Bong-joo, who is commanding the world athletic stage at an age close to 40, has been the embodiment of a true professional athlete. They had both considered each other “great athletes” when they saw each running in competitions on TV; then they met right before the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and became like brothers. When Lee Bong-joo went to Yuseong, South Chungcheong Province for training, Lee met Lee Gwan-woo through their mutual friend, and “sparks” flew.

They met near the Samsung Electronics team training site recently on April 26. Lee Gwan-woo changed his team affiliation to Suwon closer to Lee Bong-joo’s home in Hwaseong, but they have not had many chances to see each other due to their tight schedules. That day, Lee just finished a soccer match with Citizen Daejeon on April 25 and had some spare time, while Lee Bong-joo also had some time off before leaving for Kunming, China for training on April 27.

“Brother, have you had a good rest?”

“Yes, I have. You must be having a tough time, huh?

Lee Bong-joo, who is recuperating after the Seoul International Marathon and Lee Gwan-woo, who was anxious as his team has lost five games in a row, exchanged greetings, which showed that they know what is going on in each other’s lives.

Lee Gwan-woo said, “Brother, you told me you’d buy me dinner ages ago.” In response, Lee Bong-joo said giving him a hug, smiling, “I’ve been pretty free, but you were busy.”

Despite their tight schedules, they meet to comfort and encourage -

Lee Gwan-woo is envious of Lee Bong-joo who is having a second prime through a strict practice regimen even though he is almost 40. Lee Gwan-woo said, “I want to play as long as Bong-joo has. Soccer players have a short life span as professional players, but I think I will be able to play a little longer if I do what Bong-joo is doing.” Responding to that, Lee Bong-joo said, “Of course you can, too. Mental willingness is the key. You have to adopt strict practices and training schedules, and work hard to play soccer for a long time.”

Whenever he has time, Lee Bong-Joo goes to see the Suwon soccer team play. In April, when Suwon had a match against Seongnam Ilwha, he took all his family members to root for Lee Gwan-woo, but Suwon lost 1 to 3.

“I really wanted to win for you,” said Lee Gwan-woo.

“I know. You played harder than anyone on your team. It wasn’t your fault. Life is long, so be patient,” said Lee Bong-joo.



yjongk@donga.com