SPORTS

[PyeongChang 2018] Korean athletes to keep an eye out for Beijing 2022

By Yonhap
  • Published : Feb 25, 2018 - 10:07
  • Updated : Feb 25, 2018 - 18:23

South Korea saw new stars born at its first Winter Games at home, and for some of them, Beijing 2022 could be their opportunity to shine.

Young athletes have already etched their names into the history books at the PyeongChang games, and still there are prospects who will aim to deliver better results in the future.

In figure skating, Cha Jun-hwan and Choi Da-bin produced promising results in their first ever Winter Olympics.

Cha, 16, broke his personal high scores both in the short and free programs. He finished 15th in the men's singles figure skating competition with an overall 248.59 points, marking the highest ranking by a South Korean male skater at an Olympics.

The previous high was 17th by Jung Sung-il at the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994.


 
 

Cha Jun-hwan finished 15th in the men's singles figure skating with an overall 248.59 points, marking the highest ranking by a South Korean male skater at an Olympics. (Yonhap)

Choi Da-bin (Yonhap)


Choi, 18, also brightened her future with a seventh place finish in the women's figure skating. She had an overall score of 199.26 points, her personal high. It was the first time since two-time medalist Kim Yu-na that a South Korean skater finished inside the top 10.

Choi was not the only one who showed her promising talent at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Kim Ha-nul, the youngest South Korean athlete at this Olympics at age 15, finished 13th also with her personal best score of 175.71.


 
Kim Ha-nul, the youngest South Korean athlete at this Olympics at age 15, finished 13th also with her personal best score of 175.71. (Yonhap)


In speed skating, Kim Min-seok made a stunning Winter Games debut by taking a surprise bronze medal by finishing third in the men's 1,500-meter competition. The 18-year-old is now the first Asian skater to make a podium finish in the men's 1,500m distance in the Winter Olympics.

Kim didn't stop there. He later competed in the men's team pursuit speed skating and grabbed silver with Lee Seung-hoon and Chung Jae-won.

His teammate Chung, 16, can also shine with Kim at Beijing 2022. For Chung, racing together with the 29-year-old Lee, the most decorated Asian speed skater with five career Olympic medals -- two golds and three silvers, at this Olympics would likely to become his valuable experience ahead of the Beijing Games. 


Kim Min-seok (Yonhap)
Chung Jae-won (left) holds the Korean flag with his teammate and gold-medalist Lee Seung-hoon (right) (Yonhap)


Cha Min-kyu, the men's 500m silver medalist, and Kim Tae-yun, the bronze medalist in the men's 1,000m, will aim for gold at Beijing 2022. Both will still be in their 20s. Cha is currently 24, while Kim is 23. 

Cha Min-kyu (Yonhap)
Kim Tae-yun (Yonhap)



South Korea's traditional gold mine, short track speed skating, showed off its deep talent pool.

Lim Hyo-jun, who won the 1,500m title, is 21, while Hwang Dae-heon, the silver medalist in the men's 500m, is only 18. As for the women's side, all members who produced 3,000m relay gold, are under 23.

Among the female short trackers, Choi Min-jeong, 19, will defend her title in 2022. In addition to the relay gold, she topped the 1,500m event and cemented her status as the top ranked short tracker.

Away from skating, Yun Sung-bin will try to reaffirm that his era has opened in the men's skeleton. The 23-year-old won a historic gold at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which made him the first Asian to make an Olympic podium finish in any sliding sports. 


Lim Hyo-jun, 1,500m short track speed skating gold medalist (Yonhap)
Hwang Dae-heon, silver medalist in the men's 500m short track speed skating.  (Yonhap)
Choi Min-jeong (Yonhap)
Yun Sung-bin, men's skeleton gold medalist and the first Asian to make an Olympic podium finish in any sliding sports. (Yonhap)


Yun already finished this season as the No. 1 skeleton slider in the world, and with the Olympic gold, fans here expect him to rule the men's skeleton competition for next 10 years. Yun said PyeongChang 2018 is just a start, and grabbing another gold at Beijing 2022 will make him the first male skeleton slider to win two consecutive Olympics.

Yun's friend and teammate Kim Ji-soo will be looking for a podium finish in China four years later. He finished sixth in his first Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

On snow, Lee Sang-ho made history by becoming the first South Korean to win a medal in skiing sports with his silver in the men's alpine snowboarding parallel giant slalom event at PyeongChang 2018. The 22-year-old will try to turn his medal color to gold at Beijing 2022.


 
Lee Sang-ho, the first Korean to win a medal in skiing sports. (Yonhap)


Those who failed to meet fans' expectations at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics will be looking to make amends with victory runs in Beijing.

Mogul skier Choi Jae-woo, 23, was widely considered a medal hope for South Korea, but he tied for 10th. Speed skater Kim Min-sun, 19, who was tapped the "next Lee Sang-hwa," finished 16th in the women's 500m with a time of 38.53 seconds, which was worse than her personal best of 37.70 seconds.

South Korean athletes who failed to make the cut or finished last in their competitions will try to make a better showing in China. They will include 19-year-old cross-country skier Kim Magnus, 18-year-old ski jumper Park Guy-lim; the first South Korean woman to compete in Olympic ski jumping event; 17-year-old Lee Min-sik, who became the first South Korean to compete in big air at the Olympic; and 19-year-old Kim Kyoung-eun, the first South Korean woman to compete in aerials.

Lee Kang-bok, 17, and Jang Yu-jin, 16, the two freestyle skiers who competed in halfpipe events will also be looking to do better four years from now. (Yonhap)