Allegedly abusive curling coach banned for life

April 10, 2014

(Yonhap) — A former assistant coach of the national women’s curling team, fired for verbally abusing his athletes, was slapped with a lifetime ban from the sport on Thursday.

The Korea Curling Federation announced that Choi Min-suk will be banned for life from curling, after officials determined last month that he had verbally abused the national curlers during a competition in December 2012 in Italy.

The head coach, Chung Young-sup, did not engage in the abusive behavior, according to officials, but received a five-year suspension Thursday for failing to return unused amounts of training grants for the curling team.

Late last month, five curlers — Kim Ji-sun, Gim Un-chi, Shin Mi-sung, Um Min-ji and Lee Seul-bee — threatened to leave their semi-pro club run by the Gyeonggi Provincial Government in protest of the abusive practices of Chung and Choi.

The same five curlers competed for South Korea at the Sochi Winter Olympics last month, with Chung and Choi as their coaches. They were knocked out after the round robin stage, but their Olympic debut gave the niche sport newfound national recognition. Earlier in March, they reached the semifinals of the world championships held in Canada.

Announcing their findings, Gyeonggi officials had said Choi once gave an expletive-laden pep talk. He also made physical contact with the athletes against their will, officials said, but Choi maintained that he didn’t sexually harass his athletes.

“Using abusive language and misappropriating training grants are unacceptable, and that is why we came down hard on the coaches,” the curling body said. “We will develop measures to prevent recurrences of similar incidents and to better protect athletes’ rights and interests.”