Becoming champions in as prestigious a competition as the 13th World Championships in Athletics is any sprinter’s dream.
But for Korean athletes to even qualify for the competition will be a huge achievement given the country’s current level of competitiveness.
The last World Championships in Berlin ended in disappointment, as all 19 Korean athletes were knocked out in preliminary rounds.
This year, Korea has set a modest goal of finishing in the top 10 in 10 events in Daegu. But this also is not an easy task, according to Moon Bong-gi, the head coach of the Korean national athletics team.
“We still lag far behind the world level, but I believe this year will be a turning point. We’ll prove this at the Daegu Championships,” Moon said earlier.
National javelin champion (Park Jae-myung)
Women’s long jumper (Jung Soon-ok)
There are two qualifying criteria ― A- and B-standards ― for the Daegu World Championships. Each member country can send a maximum of three athletes who have reached the higher A-standard, or only one athlete with a B-standard record. The final entry submission is due on Aug. 15.
The men and women’s 100 meters A-standards, for instance, are at 10.18 and 11.29 seconds respectively and B-standards are at 10.25 and 11.38 seconds. Korea’s 100 meters record is at 10.23 seconds, while Usain Bolt of Jamaica holds the world record of 9.58 seconds.
Moon acknowledged that the qualifying standards for the Daegu Championships, particularly the short-distance running events, are still very tough for Korean athletics. Korea, though, as the host country, will be able to send one athlete into each event regardless of the entry standard.
“Our aim is not just to qualify for the event, but to break into the finals. So that we could at least show something to our home supporters,” Moon added.
One of Korea’s best chances for winning a medal will be the men’s marathon, and 2010 Asian Games gold medalist Ji Young-jun, is looking forward to the chance.
Triple-jumper Kim Deok-hyeon
Triple jumper Kim Deok-hyun, who snatched a surprising gold medal at the Pre-Championship in May, is definitely one to look out for in Daegu next month.
Asian Game medalist Park Tae-kyong, who holds Korea’s best record of 13.48 in 110m hurdles, already reached the A-standard record of 13.52, and is looking to make an impact at the home event.
Javelin thrower Park Jae-myung, Choi Yun-hee of women’s pole vault and women’s long jumper Jung Soon-ok are also believed have a chance to make it into the top 10 at the upcoming World Championships.
By Oh Kyu-wook (email@example.com)