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Oldest female swimmer training for Tokyo Olympics

Posted April. 21, 2020 07:41,   

Updated April. 21, 2020 07:41


It is not easy to be an athlete these days with all training facilities closed due to COVID-19. Olympic swimmer Park Na-ri is experiencing the same challenges. She does weight training for a couple of hours in the morning and swims for another couple of hours in the afternoon at pools in Seoul and nearby areas that are still open. She often goes hiking on weekends too. However, it is not enough compared to her usual training schedule of six hours per day to stay competitive with younger athletes.

Park’s strict training regimen started with a reason. She used to garner much attention in 2004 when she was a freshman in high school for competing in the 200m individual medley at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Then, she was called a successor to Choi Yun-hui, a famous female swimmer in South Korea. However, Park was soon forgotten due to injuries and had not made it to the national swim team since 2011.

After training consistently for years, Park finally got her chance in 2018 at the age of 30. She won first place in the 200m individual freestyle at the Korean National Sports Festival for the first time in seven years. She put her name again on the list of national swimmers in the following year and competed in the women’s 800m relay at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju.

The South Korean team won the 12th position in the women’s 800m relay and earned a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. Park’s goal for the upcoming Olympics is to be selected as one of the four swimmers to compete in the relay, as well as to swim for the 200m individual freestyle race. She should win first place at a selection contest for the national team to achieve these goals. She will turn 34 next year. It won’t be easy for her but Park continues to train hard as she understands its importance.

On Sunday when it began raining early in the morning, Park sent a picture taken on top of Mount Buram in Seoul. Park’s preparation for her last Olympics continues.

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com