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Denied Olympic chance, short tracker cries foul over lack of transparency

Sports 10:44 January 23, 2022

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean short track speed skater left off the team for the Beijing Winter Olympics due to an injury is accusing the sport's national federation of lacking transparency in its selection process.

In an email statement sent to Yonhap News Agency on Sunday, Kim Ji-yoo said she was "upset" that she was "robbed of my ticket to the Beijing Olympics."

"It's something precious and dear to my heart, because I earned it with so much hard work," Kim said.

However, when the Korea Skating Union (KSU) finalized its Olympic men's and women's short track squads last Thursday, Kim, who had finished third in the Olympic trials last May, was not included. The KSU determined that she hadn't fully recovered from a broken ankle.

Kim, 22, suffered that injury during the third leg of the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup season in November. She had metal pins inserted in her injured foot and returned to practice on Jan. 10.

The KSU reasoned last week that Kim still wasn't healthy enough to skate in Beijing, based on reports from the national team's coaching staff, its medical staff, and doctors from two KSU-designated hospitals. The KSU added it had studied video of Kim's recent training sessions.

In this Xinhua file photo from Oct. 21, 2021, Kim Ji-yoo of South Korea (L) competes in the quarterfinals of the women's 1,500 meters at the International Skating Union World Cup in Beijing. (Yonhap)

However, Kim said the KSU never explained how it would go about selecting skaters for the Olympics.

"I asked the KSU twice what the criteria are for putting together the team, but I never heard anything, even until the day of the selection," Kim said. "I had been training and recovering from my injury. I felt I would be able to keep progressing before the start of the Olympics. But I was just told I wasn't going.

"There were no clear criteria and (the KSU) did not respect opinions of an athlete who had earned the right to compete," Kim continued. "I am devastated. I hope something like this doesn't happen again for athletes who dream of competing in the Olympics."

The KSU sent its lists to the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee, which will then deliver them to the ISU. The deadline to finalize Olympic entries is Monday.

In this file photo from May 5, 2021, Kim Ji-yoo of South Korea takes a moment after winning her heat in the semifinals of the women's 1,500 meters at the national team trials at Taeneung Skating Rink in Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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