Posted March. 15, 2010 09:29,
The largest Korean delegation in history will compete at the Vancouver Winter Paralympics, which started Saturday.
The gala commenced with an opening ceremony at BC Place Stadium, signifying the start of the inspirational 10-day journey.
A combined 1,300 athletes from 45 countries will compete for medals in five events -- alpine and cross-country skiing, the biathlon, wheelchair curling and ice sledge hockey.
Korea began sending teams to the Winter Paralympics from the 1992 event in Albertville, France. Unlike in previous games where two to six athletes participated, 25 Korean Paralympians will compete in all five events this year.
Yoon Seok-yong, chairman of the Korea Sports Association for the Disabled, said, To the disabled, participation in the Paralympics itself means perfect rehabilitation. Considering that the Korean Winter Paralympics was launched just seven years ago, it is amazing progress that Korea has sent athletes to all the events in the Winter Paralympics this year.
Korea, however, has fared better in the Summer Paralympics instead of the winter edition. In the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, the country finished 13th with 10 gold, eight silver and 13 bronze medals and ninth in the 2000 games in Sydney.
Koreas best record in a Winter Paralympics was 21st, with the team winning a lone silver by Han Sang-min in alpine skiing in the 2002 Salt Lake City Paralympics.
The target this year is 22nd with a bronze medal. High expectations are placed on Lim Hak-soo and Han, who will compete in cross-country skiing and biathlon together.
Entering wheelchair curling and ice sledge hockey for the first time in the Paralympics, the Korean team is determined but has a long way to go before they can stand shoulder to shoulder with world leaders.
Delegation chief Kim Woo-seong said, The Paralympics is more about giving the hope of rehabilitation through sports to the disabled rather than just winning medals. Nevertheless, we will do our best so that our athletes efforts can come to fruition.
Beginning in 1976, the Winter Paralympics has taken place immediately after the Winter Olympics in the same host city since the fifth event in Albertville in 1992.