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Reigning Olympic wrestling champion does not fear failure in Rio

All News 12:30 July 18, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Greco-Roman wrestler Kim Hyeon-woo has won everything there is to win in his sport: an Olympic gold, a world championship, an Asian Games gold, and two Asian championships.

Boasting such a glowing resume, the 27-year-old said Monday he's not afraid of losing at next month's Rio de Janeiro Summer Games.

Kim, who won the 2012 London Olympic gold in the 66kg class, will be competing in the 75kg class at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month. He could make even more history there -- a gold will make him just the second South Korean to capture back-to-back Olympic gold medals in different weight classes, after Sim Kwon-ho did so in 1996 and 2000 in the 48kg and 54kg Greco-Roman divisions.

And while he won't fear losing, Kim said he is more afraid of leaving Rio with "what-ifs" on his mind.

"I know I have to work so much harder than four years ago to win the gold this time," Kim said during an open practice session at the National Training Center in Seoul on Monday. "And I've been trying to make sure I won't have any regrets when it's all said and done. I don't fear losing, but I am afraid of coming home with regrets and with question marks on efforts."

Kim won the 2013 world championship in his new weight class but was eliminated in the round of 16 at last year's worlds. Still, Kim said he hasn't lost any confidence, knowing he will never be outworked by anyone.

After winning the 2012 Olympic gold, Kim famously said, "If there are people who've shed more sweat than I have, then they can take my gold medal. A large banner bearing these words is now one of the most prominent features inside the national team practice gym.

"I've always had confidence, because without it, I'll be trailing in a match before it even starts," he said. "And I would never have this much confidence unless I am prepared."

Ryu said he doesn't remember much from the London Olympics, other than trying to drop 10kg to 12kg before the competition. He's at about the same weight with the Olympics a few weeks away, around 80kg, and he doesn't have to drop as much weight this time.

"It was so taxing mentally and physically, because the focus was really on trying to lose weight," Kim recalled. "I guess I wasn't able to enjoy wrestling itself as much as I wanted. But now, I don't have to worry about it so much, and I have more time to address some technical issues during my training. Wrestling has become fun again."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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