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Ex-Olympic champ wrestler has bigger goal than winning gold at Asiad

All News 10:27 August 10, 2018

JINCHEON, South Korea, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- For South Korean Greco-Roman wrestler Kim Hyeon-woo winning a gold medal at this year's Asian Games may not be that important.

He has a bigger goal to achieve.

Kim already won an Asian Games gold medal in 2014, and before that, he triumphed at the 2012 London Olympics. The 29-year-old, who also has a bronze medal from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, said for the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia, he'll fight for the future of South Korean wrestling.

"Young wrestlers will dream and find hope (in their careers) by looking at my performance," Kim said Thursday to Yonhap News Agency. "For this year's Asian Games, I'll try to display magnificent performance on the floor. That's my bigger goal than winning a gold medal."

Wrestling was once a gold mine for South Korea at international competitions, but it has been going downwards since late 2000s. With young athletes avoiding playing wrestling with an image of a physically challenging sport with rigorous training programs, the sport was hit by lack of sponsorship.

"We don't have a large pool of wrestlers, and without sufficient support, we're lacking opportunities to participate in international events and conduct overseas training," said South Korean national wrestling team head coach Park Jang-soon. "Existing wrestlers are also losing opportunities to build up their experience, so the national team isn't like the past."

Kim said he understands the current situation and that is why he feels more responsibility. For the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, South Korea expects gold medals from Kim, who will compete in the Greco-Roman under 77-kilogram division, and Ryu Han-su, who will fight in the Greco-Roman under-67 kilogram division.

"There's a reason why I have to perform well at the 2018 Asian Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics," he said. "I'm physically tired these days because I increased the amount of my training. But I'll be fit on match day."

Kim had surgery on his right elbow after the Rio Olympics. He still feels pain in the elbow, but the wrestler said he is determined to overcome the difficulties.

"I'm afraid that the pain will exist even after I retire," he said. "But I just can't take a rest if I think of the young wrestlers who will be watching me at the Asian Games."

South Korean Greco-Roman wrestler Kim Hyeon-woo (L) trains with his teammate at the National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, on Aug. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)


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