Two Korean flags were raised at the men’s 200m freestyle awards ceremony at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
While 200-meter freestyle champion Hwang Sun-woo (20-Gangwon Provincial Government) was the star of the ceremony, the spotlight was also on Lee Ho-jun (22-Daegu Metropolitan City Government), who raised the second flag.
Lee finished third in the men’s 200-meter freestyle final of the Swimming Management at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games in 1:45.56 on Sunday at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China.
Only two swimmers finished faster than Lee, Hwang Sun-woo (1:44.40), who set a new Korean and meet record, and Fan Zhan-er (19-China), who touched the wall in 1:45.28.
Lee improved his personal best by 0.14 seconds from 1:45.70 to 1:45.56 to win his first individual Asian Games medal.
Lee’s earlier gold (men’s 800-meter freestyle relay) and silver (men’s 400-meter medley relay) medals came in team events.
After checking his results with Hwang, Lee beamed. He also enjoyed the “medalist’s joy” at the awards ceremony with Hwang and Pan.
It has been 21 years since Korean men’s swimmers have won medals in the same event at the same Asian Games since the 2002 Busan Games in the men’s 1,500-meter freestyle (Cho Sung-mo, 2nd; Han Kyu-chul, 3rd).
“I envisioned two swimmers on the podium, and I’m glad we accomplished our goal,” said Lee Ho-joon, who directed “Korean Swimming’s Shining Moment” with Hwang Sun-woo.
Although he achieved his goal of winning a medal, Lee was disappointed with his performance.
Lee was in second place at the 150-meter mark, but was overtaken by Pan Zanler in the final 50 meters.
“I’m happy to have broken my own record,” said Lee. However, I trained with the goal of breaking into the 1:44s, but it’s a shame that I stayed in the 1:45s,” he said. “I saw Sunwoo ahead of me with the goal of breaking into the 1:44s, so I pushed myself a little too hard and increased my speed early, but I was caught by Pan Zhanle at the end.”
Lee acknowledged the two athletes ahead of him.
“Both Sun Woo and Pan Zanler are great players. They are better than me,” he said, adding, “I will try my best to catch up with them.”
Lee finished seventh (1:48.10) in the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang.
In five years, Lee has gone from an Asian Games finalist to a bronze medalist.
Last month, he finished sixth in the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the Fukuoka 2022 World Aquatics Championships in 1:46.04.
He and Hwang made history by becoming the first South Korean swimmers to reach the finals at the same time in the history of the World Aquatics Championships.
At the Asian Games, he joined Hwang on the podium.
While Hwang and Pan set the pace, Lee is quickly catching up.
With Hwang establishing himself as a world-class athlete and the likes of Lee Ho-joon and Kim Woo-min increasing their speed, Korean swimming is experiencing a renaissance.
“Sun-woo is in great shape for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics,” says Lee. Senior Kim Seo-young is also showing consistently good results, and Kim Woo-min’s times are also good,” he said, adding, “The friendship of our national swimming team is also strong.”
For Lee Ho-joon, Hwang Sun-woo, the ‘junior ahead of him’, is not a source of jealousy, but a good stimulus.
“Having a world-class athlete as a teammate gives me a lot of encouragement,” Lee said, adding, “I have a lot of international competitions left. I have more goals that I haven’t achieved yet, so I’ll work harder to achieve them.” 스포츠토토