Confident of bounceback, Korea sets sights on multiple shooting medals in Paris

The Korean shooting national team, along with head coach Jang Kap-seok, center, speaks during the national team media day at Jincheon National Training Center in North Chungcheong Province, May 27. Yonhap

Korea led all countries with three gold and two silver medals in shooting at the London Olympics 12 years ago. Two competitions later, though, Korea managed just one silver medal in Tokyo.

With the next Summer Olympics in Paris about two months away, Korea feels confident it can return to days of winning multiple medals from the range.

“I think all of our shooters have so much potential. In many of the events, we’re right there with the best in the world,” said Jang Kap-seok, head coach of the national shooting team, during the media day press conference Monday at Jincheon National Sports Center in Jincheon, 85 kilometers south of Seoul. “Our objective is to win one gold, two silver and one bronze medals.”

Jang said he has been trying to challenge his shooters by setting up a difficult training environment, so that they will not be caught by surprise during the competition that counts.

“We’ve embraced the latest technologies and equipment as we try to get better,” Jang added. “In order to help our shooters’ concentration level, we’ve also paid close attention to psychology, kinesiology, nutrition and physiology.”

Jang said the team has been building up nicely for Paris, winning medals at international competitions since late last year. Most recently, at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Baku earlier this month, Kim Ye-ji won the women’s 25-meter pistol gold medal with a world record score of 42 points.

Kim, 31, said her confidence is running at an all-time high.

“That World Cup victory was the greatest moment of my career,” Kim said. “And it was the result of my hard work. I don’t think I need to work on anything at this point. I just have to keep this up through the Olympics. I am confident I can win a medal.”

In the men’s pistol competition, Song Jong-ho will be making his second career Olympic appearance in the 25m rapid fire event. In Tokyo three years ago, Song was disqualified after failing velocity testing at a post-competition check following the qualification round.

Now 34, Song said he will try to learn from every misstep he has had along the way. And that includes settling for a team silver medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games last fall, when he had been favored for gold in both the team and the individual events.

“I thought I had prepared well for Hangzhou and didn’t get the results I wanted,” Song said. “But I can always learn from that type of experience. I will try to be smarter this time around.”

Another gold medal contender who fell short in Hangzhou was Lee Eun-seo, who won bronze medals in the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions team event and also in the 10m air rifle team event.

In Baku this month, she finished fourth in the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions.

“I was disappointed with myself that I didn’t perform as well as I expected to,” Lee said. “I realized I still had so much to 토토 do. But you can always learn from those mistakes, and I am really motivated. I feel like I am in pretty good form at the moment. If I can keep this up, I should have no problem winning a medal.”

No Korean shooter has won a medal in the 50m rifle 3 positions event, which requires shooters to take shots from prone, standing and kneeling positions.

Song and Lee, both in their 30s, have some competition experience to fall back on as they gear up for Paris. Ban Hyo-jin, on the other hand, didn’t even expect to make the Olympics this time. The 16-year-old high school student will be making her Olympic debut in the 10m air rifle.

“My initial goal was to do well this year and then make the national team next season. I only entered the Olympic trials to gain some experience,” Ban said sheepishly. “Luckily, I did well enough to qualify for the Olympics this year. I am very grateful for this opportunity.”

Ban insisted she is not just going to Paris as a passenger.

“I think I should be able to bring home a medal if I can keep this up,” Ban said. “I will go in with confidence and without putting pressure on myself.”

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