S. Korea Defeats Cuba to Win Baseball Gold
By Kang Seung-woo
South Korean baseball team won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, beating Cuba 3-2 Saturday.
Facing the reigning Olympic champion, Lee Seung-yeop's go-ahead two-run homer and starter Ryu Hyun-jin's strong performance to give South Korea its first gold medal in the final Olympic stage.
Baseball and softball will be eliminated from the London Olympic in 2012.
The Kim Kyung-moon's side, comprised of the players from the Korea Baseball Orgainzation (KBO), became the first undefeated Olympic champion since Cuba did so in 1996.
They became the first South Korean squad to clinch an Olympic title in a team competition of ball game since 1996, when the women's handball team won.
Lee, who hit a tiebreaking homer against Japan in the semifinal Friday, drove Norberto Gonzalez's fourth pitch he saw into the left seats for a 2-0 lead in the first, but the Cubans cut the lead to one on Michel Enriquez's solo shot.
In the seventh, the both sides added one run, respectively, to make it 3-2.
Cuba, which won three in its four Olympic final appearances, hung tough in the ninth, loading the bases.
The manager Kim replaced Ryu with Chong Tae-hyon, who earned a save against Japan in qualification.
The sidearmer reliever induced Yuliesky Gourriel to ground into a double-play to end the game.
Ryu, who shutout Canada on Aug. 15, pitched 8 1/3 innings and allowed two-run on five hits to pick up his second victory of the tournament.
The United States beat Japan to take the bronze medal earlier in the day.
Cha Dong-min completed South Korea's taekwondo sweep as he won a gold medal in the men's over-80 kilograms.
In the final bout, Cha defeated Greece's Alexandros Nikolaidis 5-4 to give South Korea its fourth gold medal.
Nikolaidis lost to Moon Dae-sung by KO in the same class of the Athens Olympics in 2004.
The nation's former best achievement was three golds and one silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Lim Su-jeong won in the women's under-57 kilograms, while Son Tae-jin topped the men's under-68 kilogram division Thursday.
Hwang Kyung-seon claimed gold in the women's under-67.
With the Cha's championship, South Korea has dominated the division for the third straight time at the Olympics.
Kim Kyung-hoon and Moon won in 2000 and 2004, respectively.
Cha, who led 4-3 until the second round, allowed the Greek to tie the match in the third, but the South Korean scored a winning point with just 18 seconds left to capture the gold.
The women's handball team downed Hungary 33-28 to win a bronze medal.