Ulugbek Rashitov, who beat South Korean taekwondo star Lee Dae-hoon in men’s -68kg elimination round and won gold medal for Uzbekistan, dedicated his medal to his late coach Kim Jin-young, who died six weeks before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Kim died at the age of 41 in an incident that occurred in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on June 16. After winning the gold medal, Rashitov, who had to go to the Olympics without a coach due to the sudden incident, said during a press conference that all the players were heartbroken to hear the news and the incident made him stronger, adding he want to dedicate the medal to the late coach.
The late coach Kim led the Uzbekistan national team after coaching Indonesia, China, and Morocco since 2007. When the athletes’ village was closed due to the spread of COVID-19 last year, Kim started coaching players via video and then converted his house into a training center in June last year. Even though he was unpaid at that time, he moved to a bigger house to train Uzbekistan players. Thanks to Kim’s support, Uzbekistan won four tickets to the Olympics, the most in Uzbekistan’s taekwondo history.
On coach Kim’s Facebook account, there is a photo taken with the athletes with the caption, “Let’s go for Uzbekistan’s first Olympic gold medal.” Rashitov was nobody in the taekwondo world with no respectable results in international competitions. “There has not been an Uzbekistan Olympic champion in taekwondo,” Rashitov said after achieving his coach’s wish. “It feels like a dream.”
Bo-Mi Im firstname.lastname@example.org