Wrestling in crisis, Hangzhou to be a turning point…Jeong Jung-jae-Kim Hyun-woo gold challenge

September 18, 2023 0 Comments

Wrestling, which gave South Korea its first gold medal in Olympic history (Yang Jeong-mo in Montreal 1976), was often referred to as the “filial sport” of the Games until the late 2000s, when it lost steam.

With no new standout athletes emerging, the sport has won just one gold medal at the Olympics since Beijing 2008, and only three at the Asian Games, including two golds in Incheon 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang 2018.

More recently, things haven’t been so good. At the Asian Championships in Kazakhstan in April, the team won only one silver (Jung Jeong-jae in the men’s 60kg Greco-Roman) and one bronze (Chun Mi-ran in the women’s 50kg freestyle).

As a result, the sport was dropped from the ‘gold medal favorites’ list ahead of the Asian Games. Kim Hyun-woo (35-Samsung Life Insurance), the wrestling team’s main man, said, “My pride was hurt. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff.”

Despite the cold reception from the outside world, the wrestling team is determined to use this tournament as a turning point to bounce back.

The team is not aiming high right now, but is aiming to win at least two gold medals.

A total of 18 gold medals will be up for grabs in the wrestling events from October 4-7.

The men have six golds up for grabs in Greco-Roman and six in freestyle, while the women have six in freestyle alone.

South Korea’s hopes are high in the traditionally strong Greco-Roman event. Unlike freestyle, Greco-Roman does not allow for lower body attacks. It’s an event in which the likes of Shim Kwon-ho, Kim In-seop, and Jeong Jeong-hyun have excelled in the past.

Jeong Jung-jae (Suwon City Hall), Ryu Hansu (Samsung Life Insurance), Kim Hyun-woo (77kg), and Kim Min-seok (130kg) will be looking for gold in the 60kg category.

Jeong Jeong-jae missed out on qualifying for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic at the World Quarterfinals. However, he is ranked No. 1 in Korea in the 63-kilogram category and is considered the most internationally competitive member of the national team.

He was also the only male athlete to win a medal at the Asian Championships in April.

The ‘old guard’ Ryu Hansu and Kim Hyun-woo, both born in 1988, are the final flames to burn.

Ryu will be looking for a third consecutive Asian Games title (2014 and 2018), while Kim, who won gold at the 2012 London Olympics and 2014 Incheon Asian Games, will be looking to avenge his disappointment at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games (bronze).

Kim Min-seok, a bronze medalist at the 2018 World Championships, also has the quality to go for gold if the circumstances warrant.

Other medal favorites in the freestyle include Gong Byeong-min (Sungshin Yanghoe) in the 74kg, Kim Kwan-wook (Samsung Life) in the 86kg and Chun Mi-ran (Samsung Life) in the women’s 50kg.메이저놀이터

Meanwhile, a number of wrestling powerhouses such as Iran and Japan are expected to be absent from the event.

The Hangzhou Asian Games were pushed back a year to coincide with the World Championships, with many athletes opting to compete at the World Championships, where qualification for the Paris Olympics is at stake. Five of the 16 spots in each weight class are awarded at the World Championships.

Instead of sending a second team to the World Championships, South Korea plans to field its first team at the Asian Games and go for gold.

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