Published : 2013-10-24 14:10
Updated : 2013-10-24 18:00
The 94th National Sports Festival drew to a conclusion in Incheon on Thursday as the Olympic swimming hero Park Tae-hwan was voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Incheon, a metropolitan city located just west of Seoul, played host to the nation's largest multisport competition for the first time in 14 years. Some 22,000 athletes and 8,000 officials descended on the third most-populated city in the country for seven days of action in 46 sports.
The national competition came about a year ahead of the 2014 Asian Games that the city will stage. City officials have said they wanted to use the National Sports Festival as part of their preparation for the larger-scale continental event. Incheon built six new venues ahead of the Asian Games and they were used during the National Sports Festival.
Park, the gold medalist in the men's 400-meter freestyle at the
2008 Beijing Olympics, picked up four gold medals and one bronze medal here to earn the MVP honors. Park garnered 17 of 24 votes cast by members of the media. He was also voted the top athlete at the national event in 2005, 2007 and 2008. He is now tied with weightlifter Kim Tae-hyun with the most MVP awards at the National Sports Festival.
Lee Woo-seok, a teenage archer who won five gold medals, was a distant second with five votes.
Competing at a brand new swimming arena bearing his own name, Park came in first in the men's 200ｍ freestyle, 400ｍ freestyle,
4x100ｍ relay and 4x200ｍ relay.
Park came up short in his bid to add a fifth gold medal on Thursday, as he ended in third place in the 4x100ｍ medley relay event.
In addition to Park in the swimming pool, Olympic stars had mixed results in Incheon over the past week.
Gymnast Yang Hak-seon captured his third straight national title in men's vault on Wednesday. The reigning Olympic gold medalist and the two-time world champion, Yang competed through a sprained right foot to reaffirm his dominance in vault.
Weightlifter Sa Jae-hyouk swept up gold medals in snatch, clean and jerk, and total weight in the men's 77-kilogram class on Wednesday. The 2008 Beijing Olympic champion dislocated his right elbow in his titles defense in London last year, but made a triumphant return to competition here.
On the other hand, Ki Bo-bae, a double gold medalist in women's archery at the 2012 London Games, walked away with two silver medals and one bronze medal here. She failed to crack the top 10 in the qualifying rounds for the 30ｍ, 60ｍ and 70ｍ.
Oh Jin-hyek, the men's individual archery champion in London, had four bronze medals against no gold in Incheon.
In boxing, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist Han Sun-cheol was knocked out of the quarterfinals in Incheon. In Judo, Cho Jun-ho, a surprise bronze medal winner at last year's Olympics, withdrew from his final match with an injury and settled for silver.
Across the board, 25 national records were broken, 20 of which were from roller sports. Two came from finswimming and three others were from swimming.
Finswimming and roller sports aren't Olympic events. At last year's National Sports Festival in Daegu, eight new national records were set in three Olympic sports -- six from swimming and one each from weightlifting and track and field.
Track officials said cool conditions in late October may have contributed to the dearth of records, but said young athletes still showed promise in Incheon.
Weightlifters didn't produce any record, but officials in the sport said South Korean weightlifting is undergoing a transition, with previous Olympic heroes giving way to up-and-coming younger athletes.
Three different swimmers each established a national record, and officials noted that there were at least half a dozen close calls during the competition. They said records may fall more in certain events than others, and that they're not displeased with the smaller number of records this year compared to earlier National Sports Festivals. (Yonhap News)