South Korea off to fast start
Korean athletes win 3 medals
By Kang Seung-woo
Team Korea got off to a solid start on the first day of the London Olympics on Saturday, claiming three medals, despite forgoing golds from favored athletes.
Jin Jong-oh, 32, brought home the first gold medal of the games in the men’s 10-meter air pistol, while Park Tae-hwan, 22, ceded his Olympic 400-meter freestyle title to China’s Sun Yang, settling for a silver medal after a controversial disqualification. Korean male archers saw hopes of winning gold in the team event for a fourth-straight time unexpectedly dashed and managed to settle for the bronze.
With the three medals so far Korea is tied for fourth with Brazil behind China, Italy and the United States, as of Sunday morning (KST).
In the final held at the Royal Artillery Barracks, the 32-year-old fired 100.2 points to total 688.2, combined with 588 from his qualification. Italy’s Luca Tesconi won silver with 685.8 and Andrija Zlatic of Serbia scored a bronze medal with 685.2. Beijing gold medalist Pang Wei of China was relegated to fourth this time.
With the gold medal, Jin, a reigning Olympic champion in the 50-meter pistol, has become Korea’s first shooter to stand atop the podium at the quadrennial event for a second time in a row.
Jin, a native of Gangwon Province who was also a bronze medalist in the 50-meter pistol in Athens eight years ago, will defend the 50-meter title next Sunday at the same venue.
In swimming, Park saw his second consecutive gold at the Olympics in the 400 ebb from the beginning, as he was disqualified for a false start although he had finished first in a preliminary heat.
Following Korea’s appeal to the global governing body, FINA, Park was reinstated to the final, but despite his early strong stretch on pace to break the world record in the first 300 meters, favored Chinese swimmer Sun Yang overtook Park in the last lap and swam to his first Olympic title.
The men’s archery team, comprised of Im Dong-hyun, Oh Jin-hyek and Kim Bub-min, fell to the U.S. team, led by Korean coach Lee Ki-sik, 224-219 in the penultimate round and dropped to the third-place game, where Korea beat Mexico 224-219.
In the women’s fencing individual foil, top-ranked Nam Hyun-hee, the Beijing Olympic silver medalist, lost to eventual winner Elisa Di Francisca of Italy in extra time after forfeiting a 9-5 lead. In the compensation match with a bronze medal on the line, the 30-year-old Nam allowed the three-time defending champion Valentina Vezzali to rally from 12-8 to edge her to 13-12 in extra time.
In the men’s badminton doubles, favored Lee Yong-dae and Chung Jae-sung cruised past Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan of the United States in the opening round, while the women’s volleyball team lost to the U.S. team 25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21.