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(LEAD) Olympic short track champion honored with top nat'l sports award

All Headlines 14:09 February 27, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS photo, comments in paras 4-8)

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- Olympic short track speed skating champion Lim Hyo-jun was honored Wednesday as the top South Korean athlete of 2018.

Lim was the winner of the grand prize at the 65th Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) Awards. The 22-year-old captured a gold and a bronze at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games.

Lim won his first career Olympic gold in the men's 1,500 meters last February and later added a bronze in the 500m. He was the only South Korean male short tracker to reach the top of the podium at PyeongChang 2018.

South Korean short track speed skater Lim Hyo-jun poses for photos on stage after receiving the grand prize at the 65th Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) Awards in Seoul on Feb. 27, 2019. (Yonhap)

Lim picked up where he left off in the 2018-2019 International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup season, picking up three gold medals.

Two of Lim's titles came in the 500m, the shortest race in short track in which South Korean men have long struggled. At the season's fifth World Cup stop in Dresden, Germany, on Feb. 3, Lim became the first South Korean man to win a World Cup gold in the 500m in more than four years.

Lim held off Wu Dajing of China, the reigning Olympic champ in the men's 500m, in the overall World Cup standings in the 500m. The two will likely battle for supremacy at the world championships in Bulgaria next month.

"Wu Dajing has been the best in the world, and I'll try to beat him at the world championships," Lim said. "I'll look to narrow the gap with him and win the 500m gold medal at the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022."

Lim is dealing with some shoulder pains after taking a fall during a recent World Cup race. He said doctors recommended surgery but that he opted to focus on rehabbing it so that he can skate at the worlds.

In this file photo from Feb. 10, 2018, Lim Hyo-jun of South Korea celebrates his gold medal in the men's 1,500-meter short track speed skating event at the 2018 Winter Olympics at Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, 230 kilometers east of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Alpine snowboarder Lee Sang-ho was named the top male athlete of 2018, while cyclist Na Ah-reum was picked as the best female athlete from last year.

Lee earned silver in the men's parallel giant slalom at PyeongChang 2018, becoming the first South Korean, male or female, to win an Olympic medal in a skiing discipline.

Na also made history at the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games last August. She became the first South Korean cyclist to sweep up four gold medals at an Asian Games. Na won the road race and the individual time trial gold medals on the road and then captured two more titles in the madison and team pursuit on the track. She is the first cyclist to win both the road race and time trial gold medals at the same Asian Games.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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