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Woo Sang-hyeok wins World Athletics Indoor Championships

Woo Sang-hyeok wins World Athletics Indoor Championships

Posted March. 23, 2022 07:47,   

Updated March. 23, 2022 07:47


“I’ve always had a thirst for being first. I’ll try to win many first titles down the road.”

South Korean high jumper Woo Sang-hyeok returned home on Tuesday after becoming the first Korean to win a world title at the World Athletics Indoor Championships held Belgrade, Serbia on Sunday. The Korea Association of Athletics Federations (KAAF) officials, including Chairman Lim Dae-ki welcomed Woo with bouquets of flowers and fans also welcomed his glorious return.

Woo cleared 2.35 meters to break a 24-year Korean record and finish fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This time, he cleared 2.34 meters in Serbia. He broke his own record last month with his winning clearance of 2.36m at the World Athletics Indoor Tour in Hustopeče, the Czech Republic. Clearing higher than 2.30 meters has become natural for Woo. “I think I realized how (to set a good record,” said Woo. “For some players, their body remembers the feeling of achieving a goal at big competitions. I think Woo gained confidence in himself after achieving his goal at the Olympics and his body learned the feeling,” said Kim Do-kyun, the vertical jump coach of the national team.

Unlike his nickname, “smile jumper,” Woo shed tears the moment his winning was decided. “Being ranked first in the world does not guarantee winning at competitions. When the winning was confirmed, I broke into tears as all pressure on my shoulders disappeared,” said Woo.

Woo has important competitions ahead of him this year, such as World Athletics Championships in July and the Asian Games in September. “Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy won the gold at the Olympics after winning the World Athletics Indoor Championships and gaining much experience,” he said. “I have gained good experience as well. I will try to win the World Athletics Championships and the Paris Olympics in the long term.”

Woo will participate in the national championships and Asian Games trials next month. He will aim for the World Athletics Championships by competing at overseas competitions since May.

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com