Korean taekwondo team eyes gold in Paris after being shut out in Tokyo

Korean taekwondo athletes representing the country at the Paris Summer Olympics stand in front of a Korean flag during the national team media day at Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, June 25. Yonhap

After Korea got shut out of gold medals in taekwondo at the previous Olympics, members of the national team bound for Paris said Tuesday they will try to bring home a big prize this time.

With head coach Lee Chang-geon in charge, Korea will send four athletes to the taekwondo competition at the Paris Olympics: Park Tae-joon in the men’s 58 kilograms, Seo Geon-woo in the men’s 80kg, Kim Yu-jin in the women’s 57kg and Lee Da-bin in the women’s +67kg.

“As the home of taekwondo, we will try our best to post great results at the Paris Olympics,” coach Lee told reporters at the national 추천 team media day at the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 85 kilometers southeast of Seoul. “Our goal is to win at least one gold medal.”

That would be one more than Korea’s total at the Tokyo Olympics, where the once-proud taekwondo national settled for one silver medal and two bronze medals.

Taekwondo became a medal sport in 2000 and had never failed to produce a gold for the country until the disappointing performance in the Japanese capital, despite being represented by six athletes, a record high for Korea.

Lee defined the country’s performance in Tokyo as a “failure.”

“Because we experienced that failure in Tokyo, we will try to make sure we accomplish our goal at this year’s Olympics,” the coach added. “Our athletes have been going through customized training programs to get ready. I am looking forward to seeing their work pay off.”

Lee Da-bin was the lone silver medalist in Tokyo, where she lost to Milica Mandic of Serbia in the final. She said she has already enjoyed the benefits of individualized training routines.

“I think we will all be able to compete in our best form,” the 27-year-old said. “We will all go in with a sense of urgency, and I think it will lead to great results.”

Lee said she is in far better form now than three years ago. She had a foot surgery before Tokyo and her rehab continued on until right before the big competition.

“I was grateful just to be able to compete in Tokyo. I guess I was satisfied with the silver medal because I hadn’t really trained much for the Olympics then,” Lee looked back. “Now that I’ve had my taste of the Olympics, I think I can do better this time. I’ve done everything I wanted as a taekwondo athlete. I just have to win an Olympic gold.”

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