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(Olympics) S. Korea comes up short of gold medal target in Rio

All Headlines 06:27 August 22, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) -- With a combination of a slow start and underachieving athletes, South Korea came short of its gold medal target at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The Rio Games drew to a conclusion Sunday, with 306 gold medals handed out in 28 sports.

Nine of those gold medals were won by South Koreans -- four in archery, two in taekwondo and one each in fencing, shooting and golf.

The country had set out to capture at least 10 gold medals and place inside the top 10 in the gold medal count for its fourth consecutive Olympics. By finishing in the eighth place with nine gold medals, the country only enjoyed a partial success.

The delegation's slow start to the competition dampened the excitement early. On the first Saturday of the Olympics, South Korea was counting on about three gold medals, but came away with one -- in the men's archery team competition.

Shooter Jin Jong-oh failed to defend his gold in the men's 10m air pistol event. Kim Won-jin, No. 1 in the men's 60kg judo, didn't even make it to the medal stage as he was eliminated in the quarterfinals. Epee fencer Shin A-lam, a central figure in the timekeeping error in London that cost her a spot in the final, lost her first match.

And most egregiously, swimmer Park Tae-hwan didn't even make the final of his main event, the 400m freestyle.

It would remain the theme for the rest of the Olympics.

Judo bore the brunt of criticism early in the Olympics with a string of performances that fell below expectations. The sport boasted four No. 1-ranked men but only two of them, An Ba-ul in 66kg and Gwak Dong-han in -90kg, even won a medal.

Park never made it out of the heats in his three races -- 400m followed by 200m and 100m -- and he withdrew from his final race, the 1,500m freestyle.

Fencing produced six medals in London but only two in Rio, though one of them was a surprise gold medal by Park Sang-young in the men's individual epee.

Only the historic gold sweep by the archers made the South Korean medal tally look more respectable.

South Korea got a late push from taekwondo and golf during the final week. Kim So-hui and Oh Hye-ri were the two taekwondo champions, while Park In-bee, an LPGA Hall of Famer, claimed the women's golf gold medal on the penultimate day of the Olympics. It was South Korea's last Olympic title in Rio.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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