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Volleyball icon Kim Yeon-koung most impressive S. Korean athlete at Tokyo Olympics: poll

Summer Olympics 11:41 August 13, 2021

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) -- Forget medalists: South Korean volleyball icon Kim Yeon-koung was the most impressive athlete from the country at the recently-concluded Tokyo Olympics, a poll showed Friday.

In a Gallup Korea survey conducted from Tuesday to Thursday, Kim, who fell short of a bronze medal in Japan, received 63 percent support from 1,002 respondents.

People were allowed to select up to two athletes.

An San, a triple gold medalist from archery, ranked second with 35 percent. Kim Je-deok, who won two gold medals in archery, was third with 13 percent support.

Kim Yeon-koung of South Korea celebrates a point against Serbia in the bronze medal match of the Tokyo Olympic women's volleyball tournament at Ariake Arena in Tokyo on Aug. 8, 2021. (Yonhap)

Two other non-medalists rounded out the top five. High jumper Woo Sang-hyeok, who set a national record with 2.39 meters while finishing in fourth place, came in fourth in the poll at 11 percent. Swimmer Hwang Sun-woo received support from seven percent of the polled, after reaching the finals in the 100m and 200m freestyle races. Hwang set an Asian record time of 47.56 seconds in the 100m event.

Kim Yeon-koung led the underdog South Korea to the semifinals of the women's volleyball tournament in Tokyo. The nation's love affair with the team began with a five-set victory over Japan in the preliminary round that sent South Korea to the quarterfinals. And South Korea, which entered the Olympics ranked 14th in the world, shocked world No. 4 Turkey in five sets in the quarterfinals.

South Korea then ran out of steam, losing to No. 2 Brazil in the semifinals and then No. 6 Serbia in the bronze medal match. Kim, who finished second overall in points, announced her retirement from international play following the Olympics.

In this file photo, An San of South Korea holds up her gold medal from the women's individual archery event at the Tokyo Olympics at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. (Yonhap)

Thanks to Kim's heroics, volleyball was picked as the most popular sport during the Olympics in the same Gallup poll, with 68 percent support. Archery came next with 44 percent, followed by fencing with nine percent.

Those surveyed were split on their opinions on South Korea's overall performance in Tokyo. The country ranked 16th in the medal race with six gold, four silver and 10 bronze medals, and 31 percent of the polled said it was below their expectations. But another 31 percent said it was right around their level of expectations, while 25 percent said South Korea exceeded their expectations.

In this file photo, Kim Je-deok of South Korea prepares to shoot his arrow in the round of 32 in the men's individual archery event against Florian Unruh of Germany at the Tokyo Olympics at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Yonhap)

Also, 53 percent of the people said the Tokyo Olympics brought joy to their life, as opposed to 37 percent who said the sporting event didn't do so.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points and a confidence level of 95 percent.


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