Gymnast wins dreamy gold; rifle shooter comes from behind for silver
Korea to have showdown with China in table tennis team final wednesday
Korean gymnast Yang Hak-seon had a dream this week that he went home empty-handed from the London Olympics. He didn't remember where he'd finished in the dream, but when he was back home, none of his friends and teammates would talk to him.
"I even said during that dream, 'I wish this was a dream,'" said Yang. "Guys would just ignore me. It just left a bad taste in my mouth when I woke up."
The 19-year-old needn't worry about getting cold shoulders from people around him. Yang on Monday claimed the men's vault title, becoming the first South Korean to win an Olympic gymnastics gold.
He scored 16.533 points on average after two attempts to finish ahead of Denis Ablyazin of Russia, who had 16.399 on average.
And after winning the gold in real life, Yang said he was feeling decidedly dreamy.
"I am still numb," Yang said minutes after receiving his gold medal. "My training hadn't gone too well recently and I was nervous. But now I have the first gymnastics gold for the country."
Yang first attempted a difficult move actually named after him, "the Yang Hak-seon," or a triple-twisting handspring front somersault. He had good execution in air before taking a couple of steps forward on landing.
But Yang had a flawless landing on his second routine, a slightly less challenging move that still required three turns in air.
"After the first landing, I thought I could be in trouble," Yang said. "But before the second try, I felt light as a feather. Everything went perfectly."
Hours before Yang's golden moment, Kim Jong-hyun won the silver medal in men's 50-meter rifle 3 positions event for Korea's fifth shooting medal in London. With his final bullet, Kim fired a 10.4 out of maximum 10.9 to erase a 1.6-point deficit against Matthew Emmons of the U.S.
Kim ended with 1,272.5, 1.2 points ahead of Emmons. Niccolo Campriani of Italy eased his way to the gold at 1,278.5, after setting an Olympic record in qualification with 1,180 points.
After the qualification round, Kim was nine points behind Campriani and one behind Emmons at 1,171. But the South Korean needed only two shots to move into second, before Emmons fired 10.7, 10.6 and 10.5 with his seventh, eighth and ninth shots.
But the American came undone by an uncharacteristic 7.6, the lowest score by any of the eight finalists on this day. Kim clinched his first Olympic medal with a 10.4.
Kim said he didn't expect to win silver after hearing cheers raining down on Emmons leading to the final shot. He said he wanted to focus on his own task.
"All I was thinking about was shooting something higher than 10," he said. "I thought to myself I can't afford anything around 8 or 9. That helped me concentrate better at the end."
Korea has secured the silver at least in men's table tennis team event as their players will meet with Chinese in the final Wednesday. Korea defeated Hong Kong 3-0 in the seminal Monday, prevening an all-China finals. Hong Kong's three players were all born in mainland China and moved to Hong Kong when they could not make China's national team.
On the other hand, Korean women's table tennis team fell to China in the semifinals.
Korea was blanked 3-0 in the best-of-five team competition and failed to win a single game. In the team component, the first two matches are singles, the third is doubles and the final two, if necessary, are singles. Each country carries three players and each individual match is also a best-of-five affair.
Korea's Seok Ha-jung, Kim Kyung-ah and Dang Ye-seo were overwhelmed by the defending Olympic champions. China trotted out three of the world's four highest-ranked players, including No. 1 Ding Ning.
Korea will face Singapore Tuesday in the bronze medal contest.
Kim and Dang were on the bronze medal-winning team four years ago at the Beijing Olympics. This is only the second Olympics featuring team events for male and female players.
Greco-Roman wrestler Jung Ji-hyun was knocked out of the quarterfinals in the men's 60-kg class Monday. Jung has failed to reach the podium in two straight Olympics since winning the gold at the 2004 Athens Games. (LONDON=Yonhap)