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Dutch coach for Korean speed skating to leave after contract expires

Bob de Jong, the Netherlands-born coach for South Korean speed skating at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, is set to leave the country later this week, with his contract expiring on Wednesday, the sport's national federation said.

The Korea Skating Union added it is also considering an extension of de Jong's deal, depending on the opinions of skaters and other coaches.

"Bob de Jong is returning to the Netherlands for visa-related matters, but we'll continue to talk," a KSU official said. "The Olympics just ended, and so we'll have to start gathering opinions (from the athletes and coaches)."

De Jong, who counts the 10,000-meter gold medal at Torino 2006 among his four Olympic medals, joined the South Korean staff last year. Having mostly worked with long-distance skaters, de Jong helped the country grab seven medals during PyeongChang 2018, a national record for a single Winter Olympics and second most of any country at PyeongChang behind only his native Netherlands.

South Korea speed skating coach Bob de Jong (L) embraces skater Lee Seung-hoon after Lee won gold medal in the men`s mass start at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics at Gangneung Oval in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 24. (Yonhap)
South Korea speed skating coach Bob de Jong (L) embraces skater Lee Seung-hoon after Lee won gold medal in the men`s mass start at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics at Gangneung Oval in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 24. (Yonhap)

Lee Seung-hoon, who once competed against de Jong at the Olympics, won the men's mass start gold medal and added a silver in the team pursuit. An 18-year-old Kim Min-seok was a member of the silver medal-winning team pursuit trio and also grabbed bronze in the men's 1,500 meters. Kim Bo-reum shook off a bullying scandal from the women's team pursuit to take silver in the mass start.

De Jong, 41, also became famous during the Olympics for his open display of affection for his skaters. In a blog he kept for a Dutch speed skating site during PyeongChang 2018, de Jong recounted an incident where he "jumped down 2.5 meters from the stands to cuddle the Koreans right away" after Lee Seung-hoon won the gold in the men's mass start and teammate Chung Jae-won finished eighth. De Jong said he was pulled away by a couple of Dutch speed skating officials who didn't see him coming, but said he couldn't help the rush of emotions.

"I have built up a solid relationship with those skaters and staff and I wanted to celebrate that success with them," he wrote. "It may sound crazy, but if you have worked together so closely, then as a Dutchman you can also be very happy with success for Korea." (Yonhap)

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