Korea Finishes Third in Universiade

2009-07-13 : 17:47

Kim Deok-hyeon
By Kang Seung-woo
Staff Reporter

South Korea moved ahead of Japan on the final day of competition Sunday (KST) to finish third in the medals table at the 25th Summer Universiade in Belgrade, Serbia.

Kim Deok-hyeon's victory in the men's long jump gave Korea its 21st gold medal to move past Japan.

The Korean team also won 11 silver and 15 bronze medals, while Japan had 20 gold, 21 silver and 32 bronze.

Russia topped the collegian sports festival after taking 27 gold, 21 silver and 27 bronze medals to beat distant runner-up China, at 22, 21 and 15.

The third-place finish equals Korea's best achievement in the history of the biennial sports event since Korea began participating in 1959.

The Korean team was also third in the 2003 contest, held in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

``I am glad to please the Korean people after achieving our best mark, third place,'' said Kim Yang-jong, who headed the Korean team.

``It is good that Korea won gold medals in gymnastics, fencing and judo as well as taekwondo and archery.

``Particularly, the women's football team, which triumphed for the first time on the international stage, deserves high praise.''

The next site for the university games is Shenzhen, China and Gwangju, Korea will host the 2015 event.

Archer Kim Ye-seul had Korea's biggest medal haul with three gold and judokas Wang Ki-chun and Kim Sung-min each had two.

Reigning Olympic champion Evgeniya Kanaeva of Russia racked up five gold medals, the most by a single athlete.

Kim, 23, advanced to the long jump final in third place and cleared a new Korean-record ― 8.2 meters ― on his fifth try to clinch the win, breaking his own mark of 8.13 meters, set at the Korean National Sports Festival in Yeosu, last year.

He jumped 8.41 meters, 0.01 meters higher than the competition record, which was not approved, however, because of the help of a strong 3.5-meters-per-second tailwind.

It was the first gold and second medal overall that South Korea has won in athletics, where 46 gold medals were up for grabs. Park Jae-myoung took Korea's other athletics medal after finishing third in the men's javelin.

Although Korea did better than expected, it will need to address a few issues if it hopes to maintain its billing as a sports powerhouse.

In taekwondo, which awarded 21 gold medals, Korea earned just seven, three fewer than expected.

In addition, three of them came from the newly-introduced poomsae, which is not an official event at the Asian Games or the Olympics. They previously won seven in 2007 and five in 2005.

Korean athletes were often seen as overpowered by their western counterparts in the middle and heavyweight classes.

Korea was still not competitive in athletics and swimming, where a total of 86 gold medals were available.

They took just one gold and one bronze in athletics while managing just a silver medal in swimming.

Japan claimed 10 gold, six silver and 14 bronze in swimming.