The year 2021 was a major turning point for Korean modern pentathlon. Jeon Woong-tae, 26, made history by winning Korea’s first medal in modern pentathlon at the Tokyo Olympics in August. Jun’s bronze medal served as an opportunity to introduce modern pentathlon to the Korean people, who had been unfamiliar with the sport. Now, Korea has a next-generation modern pentathlon prospect, who is expected to take Korean modern pentathlon to another level, taking Jun as a role model. He is Kim Dong-hoon, 19.
Kim, who began swimming at a sports club at the age of eight, served as a track-and-field and floorball player for his school with his outstanding athletic ability. He once pursued a career as a hockey player but entered the Seoul Physical Education Middle School as a triathlon (swimming and laser-run) player, thinking that he will be able to learn a variety of sports. Then he went to the Seoul Physical Education High School as a tetrathlon player (triathlon + fencing), winning the first place in an individual men’s high school tetrathlon and in a relay event at the National Sports Festival in 2019. He showed his potential by coming in fourth in a mixed relay at the Youth Asia/Oceania Championships held in China in November 2019.
Kim, who skipped college to join a professional team, is recently learning horse riding, transforming into a real modern pentathlon athlete. Although modern pentathlon will drop equestrian competition after the current format came under fire for randomly assigning horses for riding, modern pentathlon athletes still have to practice equestrian as the equestrian phase still remains until the 2024 Paris Olympics. Kim said his strength is laser-run, particularly shooting.
Kim hopes to become the next star in Korean modern pentathlon, following Jeon Woong-tae, who went to the same middle and high school as Kim. He often seeks advice from Jeon regarding equipment and laser-run, which is Jeon’s strongest suit. “I was amazed by Jeon’s Olympic performance and, at the same time, felt jealous of him as a fellow athlete,” Kim said. As much as he likes the title of being the first of something, Kim said he will do his best to become the first Korean Olympic gold medalist in modern pentathlon.
Hong-Gu Kang firstname.lastname@example.org