The medal was a bonus. A lone sprinter who spent a decade in the front row of South Korean track and field, battling records and bearing the brunt of victory and defeat alone, won his first medal by “running together” on the final Asian Games stage.
The medal was a bonus, but Kim Kuk-young (32, Gwangju) was teary-eyed at the reward that came before it was too late.
“I’ve always tasted failure in individual events, but I think I can retire meaningfully and happily with a medal in the team event,” he said.
Kim teamed up with Lee Jung-tae (27-Anyang City Hall), Lee Jae-sung (22-Korea Gymnastics) and Ko Seung-hwan (26-Gwangju City Hall) to win bronze in the men’s 400m relay at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games on Wednesday night at the Olympic Sports 바카라사이트 Center Main Stadium in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. Their combined time of 38.74 equaled the Korean record in the event (2014).
It was also the first medal for South Korea in 37 years since the 1986 Seoul Games (bronze). After the last runner, Ko Seung-hwan, crossed the finish line, the four hugged and cried.
For Kim, it was his first international medal.
Between Guangzhou 2010 and now, Kim has competed in four Asian Games in the 100 meters, and has competed in five World Championships and one Olympic Games – a lifelong dream for South Korean athletes – but has never made it to the podium.
At Rio 2016, he failed to qualify, at London 2017 he was eliminated in the semifinals, and at Doha 2019 he was stopped in the heats.
Reflecting on the past years, Kim said after the race, “I have competed in many international competitions, but I have also failed a lot.
I often told my juniors about my failures because I didn’t want them to have to go through what I went through,” said Kim.
“Today, we stopped short of the record, but our talented juniors will set new records soon.
In the future, we will continue to win Asian Games relay medals and medalists in individual events.”
Although he spoke of failure, Korean athletics has succeeded as much as Kim Kook-young has failed.
On June 7, 2010, at the age of 19, Kim made history at the National Athletics Championships when he broke the late Professor Seo Mal-koo’s record (10.34), which had stood unbroken for 31 years, twice in a single day, and he has been at the top of his game every year since, battling his own record well into his thirties.
The top five Korean records in the men’s 100 meters are all held by Kim, and his wall of 10.07 (2017) has yet to be broken.
Kim, who has spent his life aiming to break into the 9s in the 100m, humbled himself at his last competition, saying, “I’ve been a national athlete for 16 years, but I’m actually a lucky athlete, not a good athlete”.
Now, the boundaries he pushed in Korean athletics have become a playground for juniors.
The juniors who played with him responded to his retirement speech by saying, “I hope (Kim) Kook-young will continue to play with him” (Lee Jung-tae) and “We want to pass it on to the athletes who are growing up” (Ko Seung-hwan).