Updated February. 03, 2014 08:52
At the Sochi Olympics starting on Friday (local time), Lee Seung-hoon will be the first to compete once again among the Korean national team. He aims at his third Olympic medal and Koreas first medal in mens 5,000-meter speed skating on Saturday. He will also be the last to compete among the Korean team. He will hunt a medal with his teammates Kim Cheol-min and Joo Hyung-joon in mens team pursuit on February 22. The records of Team Korea depend on Lee Seung-hoon.
○ Beating Lee Sang-hwa?
Only a bronze medal is missing. A bronze will be fine, and itll be better if the color changes by chance, Lee Seung-hoon who arrived in Sochi with other speed skaters including Lee Sang-hwa and Mo Tae-beom said jokingly on his determination for the mens 5,000 meters on Sunday. Lee ranked third in the mens 5,000 meters of the 2013-14 ISU Speed Skating World Cup and is a strong favorite for a bronze medal at Sochi.
Lee seems relaxed now but he went through hardships after the Vancouver Olympics, where he failed to get records as expected. What lifted him up was weightlifting.
Lee said, I was confident of my stamina because I was a distance skater. As I got weaker, however, my records werent good. As recommended, I started weightlifting last year. I trained like a weightlifter with other weightlifters at my alma mater (Korea National Sport University).
The result was better than expected. He did not know how to grab a barbell. After a few months, however, he got more powerful. He said, My friend (Lee) Sang-hwa is the only female skater who can squat 170 kilograms. I was no match for her (laugh). But at some point, I was lifting 175 kilograms. He added, My body has gotten much better in a short period of time after doing weightlifting. Most of all, Ive learned how to spend my energy instantly. I want to achieve good results in the 5,000 meter competition, the first event, for the sake of me and the Korean team.
On last Saturday, Lee was the second to pass the finish line at 3:45.00 in the mens 3,000 meters at the Heerenveen training camp in the Netherlands, following Dutchman Sven Kramer, the worlds top distance skater (3:44.02).
○ Change anticipated in team pursuit
Lee aims at another medal in team pursuit. A mens team pursuit consists of eight 400-meter laps by three skaters and teams are ranked by the finishing time of their slowest members.
I am a former short-track skater and my teammates (Kim) Cheol-min and (Joo) Hyung-joon were also short-track skaters until a few years ago. Keeping in step with teammates is particularly important in team pursuit, and it is more advantageous to former short-track skaters who practice a lot by tracking skaters in front of them, Lee said.
Koreas mens team pursuit ranks second in this seasons World Cup ranking following the Netherlands. Lee said with confidence, When we are a team, we are more powerful than three individuals. I really want a medal in this event and I think it is possible. The Dutch team is the worlds best but I think its worth trying.