Wrestling favorite Kim Hyeon-woo brought South Korea its 12th gold medal of the London Olympics on Tuesday.
But the men’s football team fell to Brazil 0-3 in the semifinal. South Korea recorded just one shot on target as the South Americans scored twice in the second half.
Kim won gold in the Greco-Roman wrestling, with his right eye virtually swollen shut. He was butted in the eye by his opponent during the quarterfinals. The 23-year-old beat Hungary’s Tamas Lorincz 2-0 in the under-66 kg final.
Kim earned his first point when the Hungarian failed to score from an advantageous position with the South Korean on his hands and knees. In the second period, Lorincz was penalized two points when he made contact with Kim’s legs. Greco-Roman wrestling prohibits tackles, trips or holds below the waist.
South Korea failed to get a gold medal in Beijing, where it had to settle for a single bronze. It last struck wrestling gold in Athens in 2004.
Kim also has become the first Korean wrestler to win gold in his weight category.
His medal brought South Korea a step closer to its record for the most gold medals at a single Olympics. The country won its all-time high of 13 gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
|The South Korean women’s volleyball team in quest for its first Olympic medal in 36 years celebrate after trumping the highly favored Italy 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Olympics in London, Tuesday. (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)|
South Korea expects to win two or three more gold medals. One of its favorite sports, taekwondo, started Wednesday. Boxer Han Soon-chul is in the semifinal, and both women’s handball and volleyball teams have reached the semifinals. The country stayed fourth in the medal table with 12 gold, five silver and six bronze medals until Tuesday.
Its men’s football team saw its gold medal dream dashed by Brazil, which completed a comfortable 3-0 victory and eased into a final showdown with Mexico, which defeated Japan 3-1.
The Brazilians, bronze medalists in Beijing four years, have never won an Olympic gold medal despite five World Cup wins.
South Korea paid heavily for squandering its chances at goal. Romulo scored the opening goal on 38th minute in the first half and Leandro cemented their victory with two goals on the 12th and 19th minutes in the second half.
The Korean squad will take on its long-time rival Japan in the bronze medal match at 3:45 a.m. Korean time Saturday.
The national women’s handball team edged highly favorite Russia 24-23 and set up a semifinal against defending champion Norway on Thursday.
Korea first contested the Olympic women’s handball in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where it claimed the silver medal. It has since reached the semifinals eight straight times.
The national women’s volleyball team also entered the semifinals after stunning European powerhouse Italy 3-1 with Kim Yeon-koung scoring 28 points.
Fourth-ranked Italy claimed the first set but lost the following three to the 15th-ranked South Koreans, who won 18-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-18.
The South Korean players linked arms and spun around in circles on the court to celebrate the victory, which also ended a nine-game losing streak against the Italians. South Korea stepped closer to its dream of winning an Olympic medal for the first time in 36 years after capturing a bronze in Montreal in 1976, which was its best finish in the Olympics.
The Koreans will play world No. 1 the United States in the semifinal Thursday.
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org)