Jung Fails to Defend Olympic Title
By Kim Tong-hyung
Jung Ji-hyun's ambitions to defend his Athens Olympic gold was shattered in just a few seconds.
The 25-year-old South Korean seemed locked for a semifinal berth in the Greco-Roman wrestling 60-kilogram class, taking his first-round match against Kazakhstan's Nurbakyt Tengizbayev and building a 2-1 lead late into the second round in their quarterfinal match.
Nothing went right from there.
With just five seconds left in the second round, Tengizbayev managed to pin Jung on his shoulder then toppled him on consecutive moves, getting the second and third points required for the win and tying the match at 1-1.
Jung, seemingly having the air sapped out of him after coming close to the win, failed to put up a convincing fight in the third round as Tengizbayev advanced to the semifinals.
It wasn't the resilient Jung the world witnesses four years ago, when he worked overtime to claim the gold from Cuba's Roberto Monzon Gonzalez.
Jung seemed shocked after the loss, crouching down to the mat for several seconds after the match.
Jung wasn't the only South Korean athlete who was rendered speechless Tuesday.
The South Korean team had been hoping to reach the podium in men's team gymnastics. However, the Koreans failed to recover from Yang Tae-young's sub-par start at the pommel horse and finished fifth with 274.375 points.
Yang, who refused to talk to reporters after the match, had been fighting a back injury and it clearly showed in his performance Tuesday. The country's highest-profile gymnast scored a disappointing 13.525 points on pommel horse and just 14.750 points and 15.450 points in the rings and vault, respectively, which virtually killed the Korean hopes for the podium.
The Chinese team took the gold with 286.125 points, 7.25 points ahead of archrival Japan with 278.875, while the United States took the bronze with a 275.85.