Heo Jun (35, Gwangju, South Korea), who has been a stalwart of the Korean men’s foil team, bid farewell to the taekwondo mark as they won their second consecutive Asian Games team title.
The men’s sabre team event at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games on Sunday at the Electronics University Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China, marked the retirement of Heo, who has worn the flag since 2008.
With a silver medal in the individual event at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and a bronze medal in the individual event at the 2018 World Championships, he came to Hangzhou with the intention of making this his last Asian Games.
He didn’t compete in the individual competition, so he only had one day to compete in the final event of his national team career.
He gave it his all in the final against China, where the team defeated Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals and Hong Kong in the semifinals.
The sixth round against China’s Wu Bin, who stole the timing of the Korean players with an unusual play, was a highlight.
Earlier, Wu Bin had harassed Ha Tae-gyu with a timing stealing move in the third round, and Korea was trailing 11-15.
The score was 20-25 after five rounds, when Heo Jun put the brakes on Woo Bin’s erratic play early on, scoring five straight points to tie the game and take a 27-26 lead.
Spurred on by their eldest brother’s strong performance, the juniors built a 40-36 lead after eight rounds before handing the final round back to Heo Jun.
At 41-36, Heo Jun felt a cramp in his leg. After checking his condition for a while, he returned to the piste, but the discomfort didn’t seem to go away.
However, he skillfully fended off Chen Haiwei’s attack and scored the remaining four points to complete South Korea’s second consecutive men’s flechette team gold medal.
Speaking after the final, Heo Jun said, “When I was down five points, I thought I would just tie the score. “In the last round, I suddenly got a rat, but I managed to hold on. If I was losing, I don’t think I would have been able to catch up.”
He couldn’t hide his mixed feelings about his national team career, which has just come to an end.
“Being on the national team has been exhausting and difficult. I had no life of my own because I was in a position where I was constantly being judged, so I want to enjoy my marriage and be free to be outside with my wife,” Heo said, explaining his decision to retire.
“People say that when you retire, you have regrets, but I think I’ve done everything,” he said, adding, “Today’s gold medal is more meaningful because it’s my last.” He cried when talking about his family.
When asked about his family, he became even more emotional and said, “Thank you for your support. I will be more filial and live well with my wife in the future. I love you,” he said, showing tears in his eyes.
Heo, who plans to coach the team for another year before focusing on coaching, encouraged the juniors in the sport, who may have been discouraged by the poor performance of other sports at recent international competitions.
“The younger players in both men’s and women’s flechettes are doing well and have the potential to improve. I understand the harsh criticism now, and I believe that in a few years, the sport will regain its former glory,” He said.
He added, “There will be moments when the juniors are weak, but I hope they can overcome them. Even if you fall down, you can get up again, so I hope you don’t feel disappointed because you fell down.” 파워볼분석