South Korea eye at least 10 Olympic gold medals

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South Korea — powered by swimmer Park Tae-Hwan and other star performers — are eyeing at least 10 gold medals at this summer’s London Olympics, sports officials said Wednesday. South Korea have ranked in the top 10 in medal standings in six of the past seven Olympics and won a record 13 golds at Beijing in 2008. “At the Olympics in London, we aim to win 10 gold medals and secure a top 10 finish,” Lee Kee-Heung, head of South Korea’s athletic delegation, told reporters.
Some 370 South Korean athletes are set to compete in 23 sports. Park remains the biggest star after he claimed the country’s first Olympic swimming gold in Beijing by winning the 200m freestyle. Coaches also expect good results in archery, judo, fencing, shooting and badminton, as well as in the indigenous martial art taekwondo. Reigning Olympic champion Jang Mi-Ran, who won the country’s first-ever medal in weightlifting, was hopeful to triumph in the women’s over-75kg. “I may have difficult times… but I will do my best for good results,” she said. Jang has fully recovered from injuries but has seen her world records in snatch and total weight broken by younger Russian and Chinese rivals in recent years.
Shuttler Lee Yong-Dae, who will team up with Ha Jung-Eun to defend his mixed doubles gold, remains confident of gold in the men’s doubles. In women’s fencing, Nam Hyun-Hee has tried hard to regain confidence since she lost to Valentina Vezzali of Italy by one point in the final four years ago. “All I need is more confidence that I can win the gold,” the 30-year-old said. Judoka Wang Ki-Chun, ranked number one in under-73 kg, said he would not feel under pressure. “My expectations are high as I’ve trained enough to win a gold medal this time.” Coach Cho Song-Dong meanwhile pinned hopes on male gymnast Yang Hak-Seon, who is seeking the country’s first Olympic title in gymnastics. Yang admitted the pressure was mounting but said he would try to stay focused on his training in the vault. “My biggest rival is really myself. I know if I can keep training the way I have, I can win the gold medal,” the 19-year-old said. South Korea will open a training camp at Brunel University near the site of the Games from July 20, a week before the Games open. Medal winners will receive 18 million won ($15,568) in prize money for bronze medals, 30 million won for silver and 60 million for gold.