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S. Korean wrestlers see Rio Olympics as 'war'

All News 11:07 July 18, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- For South Korean wrestlers, the mats at Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month will be their battlefields.

At the pre-Olympic media day held at the National Training Center in Seoul Monday, the five wrestlers -- two in freestyle and three in Greco-Roman -- and their coaches talked about having the mentality of soldiers going to war.

"I am going to be prepared like a warrior and try to bring home a gold medal," said Kim Hyeon-woo, the 2012 Olympic champion in the men's 66kg Greco-Roman event. He has since moved up to the 75kg class. "What I lack in size and strength (in a heavier division), I will make up for with my mental strength and focus."

Ryu Han-su, who will compete in Kim's old weight class in Rio, sang the same tune.

"We'll never go down once we're on the mat," said the 2013 world champion. "Our opponents will be the ones falling down."

An Han-bong, the Greco-Roman head coach and a 1992 Olympic champion, said he and his team have left no stone unturned in their preparation.

"Be it our strength, mental toughness or techniques, we've prepared the best we can to win gold medals," An added.

South Korea has won 11 Olympic gold medals in wrestling -- seven in Greco-Roman and four in freestyle.

The country has been shut out in freestyle since 1988, when Park Jang-soon, the current freestyle team head coach, won the 74kg division.

Park said his two wrestlers, Yun Jun-sik in 57kg and Kim Gwan-uk in 86kg, have as much of a chance to win gold as their more decorated Greco-Roman teammates.

"I hope all five of us can win gold medals and the entire wrestling family can have a great time in Rio," Park said.


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