Double Park for Gold

February 22, 2014

All the talk in Korea was about Kim Yuna, Lee Sang-hwa, and Shim Suk-hee, 

but it’s Park Seung-hi who delivered three medals for Korea, including two gold

No one paid much attention to Park Seung-hi,  but she came through big time for Korea. (Yonhap)

No one paid much attention to Park Seung-hi, but she came through big time for Korea. (Yonhap)

Sad days are over for Park Seung-hi. (Yonhap)

Sad days are over for Park Seung-hi. (Yonhap)

By Lee Kyutae

To say Park Seung-hi has been flying under the radar is an understatement. All the talk in Korea leading up to the Sochi Winter Olympics was about Kim Yuna and Lee Sang-hwa, and Park wasn’t even considered to be the best Korean female short track skater. That distinction belonged to the 17-year old ‘Wiz kid’ Shim Suk-hee, even until Friday.

But Park can no longer be an afterthought. She became the first Korean athlete to win two gold medals in Sochi.

Park, 21, tasted victory for the second time at the 2014 games in the women’s short track 1,000 meters and has now won three of the seven medals Korea currently has at the Olympics. She inched past China’s Fan Kexin by 0.05 seconds to win the race in 1:30:761. Shim finished in bronze with 1:31:027.

Most of the Korean media’s spotlight has been on her younger teammate, but Park is the first female Korean short track skater to place first in more than one event at the Olympics since 2006, when Jin Sun-yu won triple gold in Torino.

“I can’t believe there’s a prize like this for me, too,” she said, with tears in her eyes.

It’s been a long and tough journey for her. In Vancouver in 2010, she lost out on the relay gold medal due to a controversial ruling, and even this year, she had to settle for bronze in the 500 meters after basically being tackled from behind while in the lead.

Still, Park has now put together an impressive short track career, as she adds two gold medals (1,000m and 3,000m relay) and a bronze in 500m in 2014 to the two bronze medals (1,000m and 1,500m) she won in Vancouver.