SPORTS

Coaches of unified Korean canoeing team hail athletes' grit for historic gold

By Yonhap
  • Published : Aug 26, 2018 - 19:55
  • Updated : Aug 26, 2018 - 19:55
PALEMBANG, (Yonhap) -- The coaches of the unified Korean canoeing team on Sunday cited athletes' grit and rigorous training for their success at the 18th Asian Games.

The unified Korean canoeing team grabbed the gold medal in women's 500-meter dragon boat racing at the Asian Games at the Jakabaring Rowing & Canoeing Regatta Course in Palembang, Indonesia, the co-host city of the Asian Games with Jakarta.

Unified Korean canoeing team coaches Kim Gwang-chol of North Korea (Left) and Kang Geun-yeong of South Korea speak at a press conference after winning gold in women's 500-meter dragon boat racing at the Jakabaring Rowing & Canoeing Regatta Course in Palembang, Indonesia, the co-host city of the Asian Games with Jakarta, on Sunday. (Yonhap)

It was the first time that a joint Korean team won gold at an international multi-sport competition. The women's team earned bronze in 200m dragon boat racing on Saturday.

With "Arirang," a popular Korean folk song, played as the national anthem in the medal ceremony, the South and North Korean athletes shed tears as the unified Korean flag was hoisted.

"We only trained together about 20 days, but we spent one day like 10 days," Kang Geun-yeong, a South Korean coach for the dragon boat racing team, said. "I'm just proud of the athletes who overcame this rigorous training."

Kang said the South and North gave all their efforts to build up teamwork.

"When we first met the North Koreans, we had a 'question mark' on our training, but we got the answer later, which was 'just do it,'" he said. "From 4 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., we only concentrated on training."

North Korean coach Kim Gwang-chol agreed that the unified Korean team pulled off a great result in such a short period of time.

"When we came to the South (for training), I wasn't sure in the first place whether we could win a medal with only 20 days training," he said. "But I noticed that the North and South Korean athletes' fighting spirit was so high after watching them train in hot weather. As I saw our boat going forward with the athletes' combined effort and strength, I felt the united power of Korea."