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Olympic mass start speed skating champ hoping to reunite with Dutch coach

All Headlines 17:01 March 02, 2018

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korean speed skater Lee Seung-hoon, the inaugural Olympic champion in the men's mass start, said Friday he wants to see his coach Bob de Jong stay with the national team.

De Jong, the Netherlands-born coach for South Korean speed skating at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, left for his homeland earlier Friday morning after his contract with the national team expired. The 41-year-old Dutchman had been with the South Korean speed skating team since April 2017.

Lee, who won gold in them men's mass start and silver in team pursuit at the PyeongChang Olympics, said he is hoping to reunite with de Jong.

"We spent a short time together, but I really learned a lot from him," Lee told reporters after an event for PyeongChang Olympic athletes at Korea National Sport University in Seoul, also the skater's alma mater. "I believe that he can come back to us. I'm waiting for him."

De Jong, considered one of the top long distance specialists in speed skating, came to South Korea with an impressive resume, including four Olympic medals, including the 10,000m gold in 2006, and seven world titles in the 5,000m and 10,000m.

De Jong competed at five Olympic Games, starting in Nagano in 1998. After winning bronze in the 10,000m at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, de Jong and silver medalist Ivan Skobrev famously hoisted Lee, who won gold in that event, on the podium.

The Korea Skating Union (KSU) previously said it is considering an extension of de Jong's deal, depending on the opinions of skaters and other coaches.

"De Jong yesterday called me to say 'good morning,' while eating ramen which I advertised on television," Lee said. "We both checked we have each other's e-mail address and phone number. I really want to see him again."

Lee, a three-time Olympian, etched his name into the history books of the Winter Olympics with his performance at PyeongChang 2018. He is now Asia's all-time leader in speed skating medals with five -- two gold and three silver. The 29-year-old also won at least one medal in his third consecutive Olympics.

Lee said his skating career isn't done yet.

"As I get old, some people ask me to do coaching, but that's not an easy job," he said. "I want to enjoy skating more. There are still skaters who are older than me who compete at a high level. That makes me more confident and I really want to do well at the 2022 Beijing Olympics."

South Korean speed skater Lee Seung-hoon (L) speaks with short tracker Lim Hyo-jun during an event for PyeongChang Olympic athletes at Korea National Sport University in Seoul on March 2, 2018. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr
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