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S. Korean short track legend back home as Singapore coach

All Headlines 10:34 March 11, 2016

SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korean short track legend Chun Lee-kyung has dabbled at many things since the end of her decorated career in 1998 -- TV commentary, ice hockey and even politics.

This week, Chun is back on home ice as a short track coach -- not for her native country, but for the one-man team of Singapore.

Chun will be coaching Lucas Ng at the International Skating Union (ISU) World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, which will open later Friday at Seoul's Mokdong Ice Rink with the qualifying races.

"I've been coaching Singapore since last November," Chun said in an interview Thursday. "Skaters are lagging behind others but they're trying to qualify for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics."

Ng, 27, has been besting his personal record times for the past four months, according to Chun, even though he will still be far from contention this weekend.

"Considering the circumstances for winter sports in Singapore, he is an outstanding skater," Chun added. "We're gunning for a gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia in August 2017. Then we'll knock on the world stage."

Chun, 40, was one of the most dominant short trackers in the 1990s. She is the first to win four Olympic gold medals in short track -- two each in 1994 and 1998 -- and the second skater to win three consecutive world overall titles, having done so from 1995 to 1997.

She said she got in touch with Singapore's skating association after moving to the country, and was then asked by the governing body to take over the national team.

There is only one international-sized ice rink, and Chun trained about 30 skaters for two hours a day, twice a week. There were also grueling sessions of off-ice training, focused on improving conditioning and posture.

"I think the situation is similar to the Jamaican bobsleigh team from the film 'Cool Runnings,'" Chun said. "In the summer, I plan to use inline skating to improve their techniques."

She added she plans to have the team compete in as many international races as she can.

"In Singapore, you have to do well internationally to receive national support," the coach said. "The future of short track in Singapore rests on our shoulders. That's why we're here."

Chun said she paid for the trip to Seoul out of her own pocket, and has reached a sponsorship deal for Ng's uniform.

"If I start something, I have to see it through," Chun added. "It's not the easiest of circumstances but I am going to do my best coaching the athletes."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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