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Short track star Shim Suk-hee resumes training amid assault scandal

Former South Korean Olympic short track champion Shim Suk-hee has resumed training after allegedly being assaulted by her own coach earlier in the week, the national skating federation said Friday.

An official with the Korea Skating Union said Shim rejoined the national team at the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, late Thursday, two days after leaving the team.

"The national team staff reported that Shim joined the rest of the skaters for morning practice on Friday," the KSU official added.

Shim Suk-hee (Yonhap)
Shim Suk-hee (Yonhap)

A source with the knowledge of the situation told Yonhap News Agency on Thursday that Shim left the training center on Tuesday after allegedly getting struck by her coach, who was promptly suspended. The KSU replaced the coach, whose identity is being withheld while an internal investigation is ongoing, with former national team coach Park Se-woo.

  The incident comes with the PyeongChang Winter Olympics less than a month away. Shim, who anchored South Korea to gold in the 3,000-meter relay at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, is the captain of the women's team for PyeongChang. She and teammate Choi Min-jeong have been two of the world's most dominant female short trackers in recent years.

The KSU official said the decision to suspend the coach suspected of assault was made, "because our top priority is protecting our athletes."

"The most important thing now is to create an environment where Shim will be able to stay focused on her training with the Olympics just around the corner," the official added.

Once the KSU's own investigation is complete, it will convene a board meeting to further discuss the issue and consider disciplinary measures on the coach as necessary.

Meanwhile, Shim's local agency, Galaxia SM, called on the KSU to quickly get to the bottom of the case.

"Right now, we don't have clear facts as to what transpired between the coach and the athlete," the company said in a statement. "Shim has been shaken up by this case more than anyone. But she's back training for the Olympics, and we hope fans will send support her way." (Yonhap)