Kim Jae-bum wins judo gold at 2nd attempt
Kim Jae-bum was like a bulldozer. The Korean judoka didn’t smile and kept attacking his opponent until he raised his hands in victory in the under-81 kilogram class final against Germany’s Ole Bischof in London, Wednesday morning.
It was a repeat of the final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. There, Kim lost and cried during a post-match interview. He was overwhelmed by emotion and acted as if he had done something wrong.
On Tuesday, he cried in celebration.
He stared into a television camera and spoke clearly about his victory that came four years too late.
“I entered the Beijing competition with the aim to live and I lost. This time I went in thinking I would rather die than lose again, and won,” Kim said, perhaps quoting with a slight twist Admiral Yi Soon-shin of the Joseon Kingdom, who defeated Japanese invaders.
Kim traveled to London after winning the gold at the 2011 World Championships and 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
Elated and overwhelmed, a tearful Kim hugged his opponent before thanking the fans.
Four years ago, Kim switched from under-73 kilograms to under-81 kilograms just six months before the 2008 Summer Games. After reaching the required weight, in the final round, he faced Bischof for the first time and lost. But this time, the Olympic defending champion faced a different Kim who was much faster and stronger.
As soon as the latest encounter between the two started, Kim took control by earning his first yuko, the smallest score in judo, in 41 seconds with a nimble inner leg sweep.
After several more attempts to finish the match, Kim finally added another yuko to seal victory and mend the emotional scars.
“I lost to him four years ago because I simply wasn’t good enough,” Kim said. “Today, I came out to beat him.”
Kim’s victory was accomplished despite injury problems. His left shoulder was completely dislocated in a competition at the end of last year and he tore ligaments in his left ring finger only a month before the London Games. However, the pain could not break his spirit.
After the injuries, he had said: “My left side is almost non-functional. I just hope my body can hold out until the end of the Olympics.” And it did.
“I prayed, ‘Please let this be the day for me,’” Kim said. “Now that I’ve won the gold, I can’t describe the feeling.”
After the match, the former champion showed great respect for Kim, raising the new champion’s arm on top of the Olympic podium.
“Four years ago he was quite young and was the Asian champion. Now I’m four years older while he’s developed,” Bischof was quoted as saying. “He’s much stronger and quicker, he deserved to be champion and I’m happy he got the gold medal.”