The Korea Herald


S. Korean athletes vow winning performance at Sochi

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : Jan. 23, 2014 - 21:52

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South Korean athletes on Thursday reaffirmed their drive to put in a strong showing at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia.

Dozens of athletes and officials assembled at the National Training Center in Seoul for their team inauguration ceremony ahead of the Feb. 7-23 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Earlier in the day, the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) announced the final list of 64 athletes and 49 officials for Sochi.

It will be the country's largest-ever delegation for a Winter Games.

At the Vancouver Winter Games four years ago, South Korea sent 46 athletes and 37 officials. In terms of the number of athletes, the country's biggest team previously was 48 at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

For Thursday's ceremony, about 80 athletes and officials were present, excluding those in short track speed skating, curling and luge that have departed the country to set up overseas training camps.

Addressing the delegation at the ceremony, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won said he was proud of the athletes who have endured years of hard training to represent the country at the Olympics.

"The Olympic Games will be a festival for everyone to enjoy, and we will all draw inspiration from your performances," Chung said. "With your hard work and courage, we are sure you will all give us a lot to cheer for this year."

Chung also called on the athletes to carry themselves well off the playing field, as the "faces" of the host country of the next Winter Games. The 2018 Winter Olympics will take place in PyeongChang, an east coast alpine town.

"We will spare no efforts to help you stay focused on training," he added. "We will be sending our largest delegation, and we will take the next step to become a true powerhouse in winter sports."

Kim Jae-youl, president of the Korea Skating Union (KSU) and head of the delegation, said the athletes are "crown jewels" of Korea.

"I am convinced that our athletes will work harder than anyone else and will never give up," Kim said. "We will all put up fair fights in accordance with Olympic spirits."

In Sochi, South Korea will be represented in every sport except for ice hockey. The first batch of the delegation will leave for Sochi on Feb. 1.

South Korea has ranked among the top 10 in medals in five of the past six Winter Games, and the goal is to make it six out of seven in Russia.

In Vancouver, South Korea won its all-time record of 14 medals, six of them gold. The gold medal haul matched the total from Turin in 2006 as the country's largest total at a Winter Olympics.

South Korea has competed in 16 Winter Games and won 23 gold, 14 silver and eight bronze medals. All have come from ice sports, and 19 of the gold medals have been won in short track speed skating.