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“Road to Beijing” Begins for Korean Olympic Baseball Team

“Road to Beijing” Begins for Korean Olympic Baseball Team

Posted November. 02, 2007 07:05,   


On October 1 at Jamsil Baseball Stadium, Korean Series champion SK Wyverns players Park Jae-hong, Jeong Dae-hyeon, and Lee Jin-yeong entered the stadium wearing uniforms that were labeled ‘Korea’ on their chests. Song Jin-woo (41, Hanwha Eagles), the eldest statesman of the team, and captain Park Chan-ho (Houston Astros), mixed with the younger players to play catch. Jin Gab-yong (Samsung Lions), Cho In-seong (LG Twins) and Kang Min-ho (Lotte Giants) took turns throwing at second base.

Jamsil is the training site of the National Baseball team that will compete in the Beijing Olympics qualifiers in Taiwan on December 1.

Preparing a secret lefty weapon-

“We are concerned about Gu Dae-seong (Hanhwa Eagles) not being able to join us, due to a knee injury,” said Manager Kim Gyeong-mun. “We need him, but surgery must come first. We will instead prepare a secret lefty weapon,” said head coach Sun Dong-ryeol.

Coach Sun revealed the team will call Jang Won-sam (Hyundai Unicorns) to the National Team from the reserve list. If injuries should occur, the team has 15 reserve players who can be called upon.

Only one team will qualify for the Olympics from Asia. Taiwan and Japan are both competitive teams which the Korean team will have to overcome. Manager Kim and coach Sun expressed their strong resolutions, saying, “We do not wish to play in the World Qualifiers scheduled for next year, and we want to qualify in the Asian Qualifiers.”

Must defeat Taiwan at all costs-

Prior to the training session, manager Kim held a press conference in the Hotel Riviera, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. There, he promised Korea would “defeat Taiwan at all costs, because Taiwan defeated Korea in the Doha Asian Olympics last year.” His intention is to demonstrate that Korea is better than Taiwan in baseball.

Korea is set to play Japan on December 2, and although Korea objectively falls behind Japan, manager Kim says a single game can yield many different outcomes.

However, it is true the Korean National Team has been substantially weakened since the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Players like Lee Seung-yeop (Yomiuri Giants), Kim Byeong-hyeon (Florida Marlins), and Seo Jae-weong (Tampa Bay Devil Rays) have not been able to join the team due to injuries.

The Olympics team decided to leave to Okinawa for training on November 11 instead of November 8, in order to allow players to train in warmer conditions sooner.

Training at Jamsil continued until sunset. During batting practice, Lee Dae-ho (Lotte Giants) remarked, “I won’t even mind playing as pinch-hitter. I will do my best to fill in the boots of Lee Seung-yeop.” The baseball festival for another medal since Korea’s 2000 Sydney Olympics bronze medal has begun.