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`No. 2` Short Track Star Lee Strives to Reach the Top

Posted February. 25, 2009 07:41,   


“Always No. 2? I’m happier because I have the goal to become No. 1.”

Time has come for Lee Ho-suk, 23, the eldest member of the men’s short track skating team.

He has won two of three events at the ISU World Cup Short Track this season. If he continues this pace, he will be a leading contender at next year’s Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Contrary to his achievements, Lee is still considered No. 2 on the team. He won silver medals in the 1,000 and 1,500-meter finals at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, with teammate Ahn Hyun-soo winning gold and getting all the glory.

Lee is still No. 2, ranking second in the world as of yesterday. Instead of Ahn, who will miss this season due to injury, Lee’s rival this time is Sung Si-back, 22.

Lee, however, is not fazed at being second-best over the past four years. “I think calling me always number two is a way to express affection. It tells me to don’t stop here and move forward to the top,” he said laughingly.

“I get along well with Hyun-soo, who is known to have bad relations with me. I don’t think there is a fight. It was only a matter between adults, and athletes must focus on the game,” Lee said.

Thanks to figure skating sensation Kim Yu-na, figure skating is gaining popularity in Korea over short track.

Her success has changed the dynamics of skating; 70 percent of skaters opted for short track in the past, but 70 percent are now learning figure skating. When short track was a fad, ice rinks used to be full of young students who wanted to pursue the sport.

Lee sees this as an optimistic sign.

“I am also a fan of Kim Yu-na. Figure skating helps short-track skating grow popular because they are all skating anyway. This is rather a good chance to publicize skating,” he said.

But the optimistic Lee is nervous about winning the national competition in April.

The competition is tough. Only five or so people out of 50 to 70 can win a place on the national team. Some even say making the national team is more difficult than winning the gold medal in the Olympics because Korea has so many skaters among the world’s top 30.

Perhaps this is why Lee remains tense. “I really want to compete in the Vancouver Olympics next year. Now I want to be number one, not number two,” he said.