South Korean volleyball star Kim Yeon-koung will play in the Olympics for the last time. The South Korean national female volleyball team led by coach Stefano Lavarini arrived at Narita International Airport in Tokyo on Tuesday. Following the records of No. 4 at the 2012 London Olympics and No. 8 at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the national team will aim to win an Olympic gold medal for the first time in 45 years since a bronze medal at the 1976 Montréal Olympics. Kim Yoeng-koung, Yang Hyo-jin, and other long-standing members of the national team will play for their last Olympics.
Olympics have been always the top priority for Kim. At the Olympics’ last qualifying round for Asian countries held in Thailand in January last year, Kim continued to play despite a torn abdominal muscle to win a ticket to the Olympics. “She required minimum of three weeks of rest but decided to compete. I understood what Olympics mean to an athlete,” said the head of IM Consulting and Kim’s agent Lim Keun-hyuk. “She could not hide her envy whenever short track speed skaters of the same agency talked about Olympic medals,” Lee Hae-wook, the head of Kim’s management company Lianat.
It is not going to be an easy path to win an Olympic medal. Twins Lee Jae-yeong and Lee Da-yeong were disqualified for school violence accusations and Kang So-hwi won’t be playing due to an injury. For Kim to keep the promise of “returning from Tokyo as late as possible,” preliminary rounds against the Dominican Republic and Japan are critical.
Hong-Gu Kang email@example.com