Back To Top

Nat'l training center opens for Olympic year


South Korea's largest training facility for amateur athletes officially opened for 2020 on Friday, with hundreds of athletes and officials attending a ceremony to mark the beginning of the Olympic year.

The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee hosted the ceremony at the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, with 480 athletes and their coaches on hand.

"Now that we're all preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, I can see the passion and determination written all over your faces," KSOC President Lee Kee-heung told the audience. "I hope you will all realize your goals. Your hard work and dedication will touch our people."

The KSOC is eyeing a top-10 finish in the medal table with at least 10 gold medals at Tokyo 2020, which starts July 24.

Two medal hopefuls in artistic gymnastics, Yang Hak-seon and Yeo Seo-jeong, were among the athletes in attendance who reaffirmed their objective of making the country proud.

Yeo, the 17-year-old daughter of former Olympic silver medalist Yeo Hong-chul, said it still hasn't hit her yet the Olympics will take place this year.

"I am excited but also nervous at the same time," said the junior Yeo, who won gold in the women's vault at the 2018 Asian Games. "I'll prepare hard for the Olympics so that I won't have any regrets afterward."

Yang, the 2012 Olympic champion in the men's vault, has fallen on hard times of late with injuries, but as important as his physical health is, the color of the medal will be determined by who has the mental edge.

"I consider myself my biggest rival," Yang said. "I've had to deal with injuries before some big events in the past. I'll try to avoid the same problems this time."

In men's judo, Gwak Dong-han and An Chang-rim will try to beat Japan at its own martial art.

Gwak, who will compete in the 90-kilogram event, said it was "an honor and a great opportunity" to compete for an Olympic medal in the birthplace of judo.

"If I can maintain my form, I should be able to realize my dream of winning the Olympic gold," added Gwak, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist.

Representing South Korea in Japan also carries extra significance for An, who was born in Japan to second-generation Korean-Japanese parents.

"I represent both South Korea and Korean-Japanese people," An said. "I'll try to regard the Olympics just like any other competition."

South Korea has finished among the top 10 at each of the past four Summer Olympics, dating back to Athens 2004. (Yonhap)