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Nat`l Curling Team Advances in Vancouver Paralympics

Posted March. 20, 2010 08:20,   


Curling is called “chess on ice.”

Unlike most winter sports requiring athletic capability, curling needs delicacy. Accordingly, competitors need a lot of experience in ceaselessly adjusting strategies and playing a battle of wits in a game.

Teamwork is also key. Only when four athletes closely cooperate can they move the curling stone in the way they want and win.

The Korean national wheelchair curling squad, armed with experience and teamwork, has pulled off a miracle. In the ninth competition of the wheelchair curling preliminary at Vancouver Paralympics Center yesterday, Korea beat Germany and finished third in the round at 6-3 to advance to the semifinals.

Many sports powerhouses such as Canada have thousands of curling ice rinks, but Korea has just two. The national squad had to freeze a swimming pool at Icheon General Training Center for the Handicapped after failing to rent a curling ice rink.

Though they practice in poor surroundings, team member have strong confidence in themselves. The wheelchair curling team has good teamwork since the sport was introduced to Korea seven years ago.

The team comprises leader Kim Hak-seong, 42, Kim Myeong-jin, 39, Cho Yang-hyeon, 43, and Park Kil-woo, 43, who have known each another from 2003. Kang Mi-suk, 42, became a member in 2005.

Athletes from other nations have recognized the strong teamwork of Korea’s wheelchair curling team. After a match against Korea, a Japanese athlete said, “It was very impressive that Korean athletes moved as if they were one person.”

Kim Hak-seong said, “I can come up with a strategy by just looking at the eyes of other members.”

Support from Korea coach Kim Woo-taek has also helped a lot. A dentist in Wonju, the coach has never competed in curling but was named director of an association for the disabled at Wonju Christian Hospital in 2003.

When a curling team was created in Gangwon Province, he unexpectedly became team coach. Later, he agreed to coach the national wheelchair curling team for free.

With a smile on his face, he said, “The biggest luck in my life has been becoming coach of Korea’s national wheelchair curling team. I’m happy to enjoy curling competition with such great players.”