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[Olympic Preview] Korea`s 1st Gold Could Come Today

Posted August. 09, 2008 13:50,   


The Korean Olympic team could win its first gold of the Beijing Games today, with competitions scheduled in swimming, shooting, judo and archery.

▽ Saturday

○ Swimming: Park could win Korea’s 1st Olympic gold

“Marine Boy” Park Tae-hwan is seeking to win his country’s first Olympic gold medal in swimming. The preliminary round of the men’s 400-meter freestyle, one of his best events, will start 8:30 p.m. at the Beijing National Aquatics Center.

Grant Hackett of Australia, the world’s top-ranked competitor in the event, will compete in the first group; No. 2 Larsen Jensen of the United States in the second; and No. 3 Park in the third. Another contender who could pose a threat is Chinese swimming star Zhang Lin.

The top eight finishers will compete in the final.

Park, however, aims to finish in the top three rather than beat Zhang in the first round to secure one of the middle lanes in the final, where the current is relatively weaker.

If Park intentionally swims slower to hide his full potential, he might not secure a good lane. If he swims his best in the preliminary, however, he could suffer from physical exhaustion in the final.

○ Shooting: Korea’s 1st Gold in Beijing 2008?

Among the 302 Olympic events, the first gold medal will be awarded in the women`s 10-meter air rifle. The competition will begin at 9:30 a.m. and the winner will be decided before 11:50 a.m. at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall.

Kim Chan-mi and Kim Yeo-oul of Korea will compete in the event.

Du Li of China is the prohibitive favorite to win the event, but a shooter’s condition on the day of the event heavily affects the results, thus an upset is possible.

For instance, Korean high schooler Yeo Kab-soon surprised the world in 1992 by winning the first gold medal of the Barcelona Olympics in the event.

The men’s competition will begin at 1 p.m. Jin Jong-oh and Lee Dae-myeong will represent Korea.

○ Judo: Redemption for Athens

Choi Min-ho is heavily favored to win the men’s 60-kilogram division. He will compete at 7 p.m. at the Beijing Science and Technology University Gymnasium.

Choi settled for the silver in 2004 due to failure to control his weight in Athens. Since then, he has single-mindedly trained to win the gold in Beijing over the past four years and has superbly controlled his weight this time.

A tough quarterfinal, however, awaits Choi. His opponent will be Hiraoka Hiroaki of Japan, one of the sport’s toughest competitors.

▽ Sunday

○ Swimming: Park to steal the spotlight

The Water Cube will host the men’s 400-meter final at 11:21 a.m., and this is where Park Tae-hwan could make Korean Olympic history.

Korea coach Noh Min-sang predicts a four-way race among the four competitors holding the fastest times this season: Hackett (3:43:15), Larsen (3:43:53), Park (3:43:59) and Peter Vanderkaay of the United States (3:43:73).

Predicting the winner is tough since the four times are all within six tenths of a second of each other. Expectations are high for Park since he has made a remarkable improvement in Beijing.

○ Women’s Archery: Will Korea rule the world again?

Korea’s top-ranked women’s archery team of Park Sung-hyun, Joo Hyun-jung and Yun Ok-hee will compete in the first round at 11 a.m. at the Olympic Green Archery Field. The final will be held at 6:25 p.m.

The Korean women’s team has never failed to bring home a gold over the past five Olympics.

The country’s main rivals are China, which won the gold at this year’s Archery World Cup, and Taiwan, which won the silver at last year’s world championships. The United Kingdom, the United States and Poland are considered darkhorses.

Park, who hit the bullseye with her final arrow to give her country the gold over China in the 2004 Athens Games, aims to win another gold medal. The stone-faced Park wears dark sunglasses and is usually deep in thought, symbolizing the determination of her team.