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S. Korean athletes return home from Sochi

South Korean athletes returned home Tuesday after two weeks of thrilling competition at the winter games in the Russian city of Sochi.

South Korea had its largest-ever Winter Olympics delegation, with 71 athletes competing in every sport except hockey.

It ended in 13th place, with three gold medals -- one by speed skater Lee Sang-hwa and two by short tracker Park Seung-hi – along with three silver and two bronze medals, coming up just short of its stated goal of winning four gold for a top-10 finish in the medals.

Figure skating queen Kim Yu-na was among the athletes greeted by flashing cameras and a wave of applause at Incheon International Airport.

While being settled for silver amid speculation over whether the result had been rigged, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist displayed much grace by presenting a flawless short program and free skate, drawing a lot of praise from fans and experts both at home and abroad.

South Korea has much to expect in the next games in 2018 set to be held on their home ground in the alpine town of PyeongChang on the east coast, as young athletes made their mark in Sochi. 

Short track has long been the country's biggest Winter Olympics gold mine and teenage phenom Shim Suk-hee showed that the sport is in good hands.

The 17-year-old grabbed three medals in her Olympic debut. She anchored the women's 3,000m relay team to the gold while also earning the silver in the 1,500m and the bronze in the 1,000m.

Skeleton's Yun Sung-bin, 19, is another teenager eyeing a better performance in PyeongChang. Unlike Shim, Yun didn't come close to a medal, finishing 16th in his event.

It, however, was the country's highest Olympic finish in a sledding event and an impressive feat for someone who only picked up the sport some two years ago. (Yonhap)