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S. Korean athletes vow to do country proud at Asian Games

All Headlines 15:26 August 07, 2018

By Yoo Jee-ho and Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, Aug. 7. (Yonhap) -- South Korean athletes competing at the 2018 Asian Games gathered Tuesday for their team launch ceremony, vowing to do their nation proud at the continental multi-sport competition.

South Korea will have 960 athletes and officials in 39 sports during the Aug. 18-Sept. 2 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.

With China expected to run the table in the medal race yet again, South Korea will set out to finish in second place behind the continental giant for the sixth consecutive Asian Games. The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) estimates it will take at least 65 gold, 71 silver and 72 bronze medals to make that happen.

South Korea will field joint teams with North Korea in three sports -- basketball, rowing and canoeing -- and will march together behind the Korean Unification Flag at the opening ceremony in Jakarta. The Koreas have never competed as one at the Asian Games, summer or winter.

Korean Sport & Olympic Committee President Lee Kee-heung (R) hands over the South Korean national flag, the Taegeukgi, to Kim Seong-jo, the chief South Korean delegate to the 2018 Asian Games, during the team launch ceremony at SK Olympic Handball Gymnasium in Seoul on Aug. 7, 2018. The Asian Games will be held from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia. (Yonhap)

And KSOC President Lee Kee-heung said bringing the Koreas together will add extra significance to the 2018 Asian Games.

"I believe this will be an opportunity for us to demonstrate the athletic prowess of one Korea," Lee told the athletes and their families attending the ceremony at SK OIympic Handball Gymnasium inside the Olympic Park in southern Seoul.

"The best athletes from across the region will compete, build friendships and put Asia on the international map," Lee added. "They will also contribute to world peace and harmony."

Representing the government, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said South Korean athletes should feel proud of the fact that they'll be contributing to peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.

Lee also said he hoped all athletes, be it veterans or first-timers, will enjoy the "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" of competing at the Asian Games.

"Obviously, it'd be important to post good results," Lee said. "But I think the people will be more impressed with our athletes' hard work, dedication and relentless spirit."

Kim Seong-jo, president of the Korea National Sport University and South Korea's chief delegate, said the athletes are determined to meet their stated medals target.

"We'll try our best to carry on the winning tradition," Kim said. "We'll wear the national flag with pride and set examples for others."

Lim Yung-hui, captain of the joint women's basketball team and the South Korean flag bearer at the opening ceremony, said it was "an honor" to be playing together with North Korean players, and she'll try to do both Koreas proud on and off the court.

Nam Hyun-hee, a 36-year-old fencer entering her fifth straight Asian Games, said the goal for herself and everyone else will always be the same.

"We'll all be out there trying to win gold medals," Nam said. "We've all worked hard for this, and we can find the extra gear with support from our fans."

South Korean athletes competing at the 2018 Asian Games stand for the national anthem during their team launch ceremony at SK Olympic Handball Gymnasium in Seoul on Aug. 7, 2018. The Asian Games will be held from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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