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S. Korean ice sledge hockey forward has bigger goals than winning Paralympic medals

All Headlines 14:38 March 06, 2018

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, March 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean ice sledge hockey player Jung Seung-hwan is one of the biggest stars in his sport and will be the frontman to lead his country to a podium finish at the PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games.

But in his third Paralympics, Jung said he has bigger goals than winning a medal.

"The goal that I want to achieve more than winning a medal is to become a guiding light to children with disabilities who lost their dreams and hopes," Jung said to reporters after the welcome ceremony for the South Korean delegation at the athletes' village in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. "I believe many of them don't know there are sports for the disabled. I want to help many young disabled people to play sports through the PyeongChang Paralympics."

Jung, 32, knows how to deal with disability from childhood. He lost his right leg at the age of five after construction pipes collapsed on him. He recalled it as a time when he lived without a dream.

South Korea's ice sledge hockey player Jung Seung-hwan (C) practices with teammates at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on March 5, 2018, four days ahead of the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games. (Yonhap)

"My half-hour commute to school always felt like hell to me," he said. "I had no self-confidence, and I was busy hiding from others."

Jung's life, however, changed after he went to college and came across ice sledge hockey in 2004. With his quick speed on the ice, Jung has become one of the most lethal forwards in the world. He has been named best forward at the World Championships three times already.

Jung was a core member of the bronze medal-winning South Korean team at the 2017 World Championships. He was South Korea's leading scorer with six goals, including the winner against Norway in the bronze medal match.

Jung, who is also an honorary ambassador for PyeongChang 2018, said he hopes his performance can change negative views of disabled sports.

"I will try to show the excitement of our sports so that many people can change their perspectives," he said. "I heard that officials are going to shut down many facilities after the Paralympics, but I really want people to support our athletes to use the facilities even after the competition."

South Korea's ice sledge hockey player Jung Seung-hwan enters the athletes' village for the PyeongChang Paralympics in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, on March 3, 2018. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr
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