While South Koreans tucked in to dishes of kimchi, tteok-guk and jeon to welcome in the Lunar New Year, the nation’s best athletes kept celebrations to a minimum.
Away from their families, South Korea’s 220-member team took part in a small ceremony on Friday morning. However, it was still business as usual in Pyeongchang as South Korea bids for more medals on home soil.
The decision seemingly paid off, as the first day of the Lunar New Year delivered South Korea a dose of the luck and good fortune that many wish for throughout the holiday.
In what was an unexpected victory, men’s skeleton competitor Yun Sung-bin crossed the finish line 1.63 seconds ahead of second place Nikita Tregubov on Friday to claim South Korea’s second gold medal of the tournament.
He is the first athlete from outside of Europe and North America to win a sliding medal at the Olympics.
Magnus Kim, who competed in the 15km cross-country skiing event later in the day, only managed to finished 45th out of 118 athletes. However, aged just 19, the three-time Youth Olympic medallist offered a glimpse of what’s the future of South Korean skiing has to offer.
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What was said:
Speaking following his victory, Yun Sung-bin told reporters:
“Getting the gold medal in any Olympics is a very great result, but getting the gold here in my home country is a very great honour, much bigger than that.”
“It’s a national holiday so I thought not many people would come to support, but so many people came to watch and I know many more watched on TV. That support really helped push me to win the gold medal.”
Will the Lunar New Year provide more medals?
The Year of the Dog has been kind to Korea so far. It took South Korea just a few hours to claim its first gold of the new lunar year, despite claiming just two medals between 9-15 February.
Yun Sung-bin’s victory follows Lim Hyo-jun’s gold medal in the men’s 1,500 metres short track speeding skating event. Kim Min-seok also claimed bronze in the men’s 1,500 metres speed skating on Tuesday.
South Koreans will be hoping that the Lunar New Year continues to provide good fortune over the weekend.
The South Korean team will be confident of adding a few more medals to their tally before the three day celebration comes to an end.
Lim Hyo-jun could add a second gold medal to his collection on Saturday, as he competed in the men’s 1,000 metre short track speed skating competition. Having won the 1,500 metre event, Lim will be among the favourites.
While late to the party, short track speed skater Shim Suk-hee will be confident of making the podium in Tuesday’s 3,000m ladies’ relay, having claimed gold in this event at the Sochi Winter Games.
She claimed three medals from four events in 2014, leaving with a bronze, silver and gold medal.
The Winter Olympics is taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
This is the nation’s second time hosting the Olympic Games, having held the summer tournament in 1988, and its first time hosting the Winter Olympics.
South Korea claimed a total of eight medals (three gold, three silver and two bronze) at the last Winter Olympics.
They are on track to improve on 2014’s results. They currently rank tenth of the medal leaderboard, compared to their 13th place finish in Sochi.