Teenagers lead new mainstream for Korea

Archer Kim Je-deok draws a bow in the round of 16 for the men's individual match at the Olympics in Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo, Tuesday. Yonhap
Archer Kim Je-deok draws a bow in the round of 16 for the men’s individual match at the Olympics in Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo, Tuesday. Yonhap


Kim wins two golds; Hwang sets Asia record

By Lee Min-hyung

Korea’s teenage Olympic athletes are the focus of keen attention, as a group of veteran medal hopefuls has ended up missing the opportunity to boost the nation’s medal tally.

All the athletes creating a teenage sensation recently have been relatively little-known to the public, as this marks the first time that they have taken part in the quadrennial global sporting event.

But they have risen to global fame in the past week since the beginning of the Olympics, by mesmerizing fans here and abroad with their astonishing performances.

Archer Kim Je-deok has won two gold medals in Tokyo at the young age of 17. He brought home the first gold in the mixed team competition, and added one more gold during the men’s team match. He sought his first triple crown, but ended up losing a match in the men’s individual round of 16.

Kim started his archery career when he was 10, but he became known on the global stage only recently. He made his international debut in the 2021 Asia Cup, about a month before the beginning of the Olympics, and won the championship there.

Kim is widely expected to grow as the nation’s star archer in upcoming global competitions, as has been shown from his outstanding results during the 2020 Summre Olympics.

Archer Kim Je-deok draws a bow in the round of 16 for the men's individual match at the Olympics in Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo, Tuesday. Yonhap
Swimmer Hwang Sun-woo swims during the semifinal of the men’s 100-meter freestyle at Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Wednesday. He set Asia’s new record time of 47.56 seconds. Yonhap


Swimmer Hwang Sun-woo is also a new sensation following his surprise advances into the finals in the men’s 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle races.

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The 18-year-old swimmer has amazed Korean fans by breaking his own record during the Olympic races.

He made his way to the final on Wednesday by setting Asia’s new record of 47.56 seconds in the semifinal of the men’s 100-meter freestyle.

Hwang is the first Korean swimmer to compete in the 100-meter final at the Olympics. Few Asian players have ever clinched medals in the competition and many Asian athletes regard the 100-meter freestyle as a big hurdle to overcome at the Olympics.

He failed to clinch a medal in the 200-meter freestyle by coming in at seventh place, but the fact that he advanced to the final, in itself, came as a big surprise to Korean fans, as few Korean swimmers have been able to do so for the past decades.

He will race in the 100-meter men’s final scheduled for Thursday morning.

Archer Kim Je-deok draws a bow in the round of 16 for the men's individual match at the Olympics in Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo, Tuesday. Yonhap
Table tennis athlete Shin Yu-bin stares at a ball during a match against Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi-kem in the women’s individual match at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in the Olympic host city, Tuesday. Yonhap


Table tennis player Shin Yu-bin, 17, made global headlines after knocking off Luxembourg’s 58-year-old Xia Lian Ni.

Shin was defeated by Doo Hoi-kem in the round of 32 for the women’s table tennis singles, Tuesday, but she expressed confidence for her upcoming team matches.

“I will let bygones be bygones and do my best in the remaining team competition,” she said in an Instagram post. “Please support us during the team match slated for Aug. 1.”

She started competing for the national team in 2019 when she was only 14. At the time, she was the youngest team member in the country’s table tennis history.

Archer Kim Je-deok draws a bow in the round of 16 for the men's individual match at the Olympics in Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo, Tuesday. Yonhap
Gymnast Yeo Seo-jeong takes a deep breath ahead of her beam event at Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Sunday. Yonhap


Artistic gymnast Yeo Seo-jeong, 18, is also gearing up for a gold in the women’s vault. She was a gold medalist at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang even at a younger age.

She hopes to make history in the women’s vault competition by clinching a gold medal at the upcoming women’s individual event on the first day of August. This will be the first time in 33 years that a female Korean gymnast has advanced into the individual final during the Olympics.

Yeo is the daughter of Yeo Hong-chul, who won a silver medal in the vault at the 1996 Olympics.


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