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Ex-Olympic weightlifting champion questioned over assault charges

2016/01/04 10:18

CHUNCHEON, South Korea, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- Former Olympic weightlifting champion Sa Jae-hyouk was questioned by police last weekend over assault charges, authorities said Monday.

Police in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, 85 kilometers east of Seoul, said Sa, 30, was interrogated for about two hours Sunday evening, after he allegedly punched fellow weightlifter, Hwang Woo-man, in the face on New Year's Eve.

Hwang, 21, has been hospitalized with an injury to his cheekbone. He has alleged that Sa hit him during their night out together at a Chuncheon bar around 11 p.m. on Dec. 31, and that he will require up to six weeks to heal.

According to police, Sa testified that he met Hwang to clear up some misunderstanding over an incident last February, in which Sa slapped the younger lifter in the face, and that he became outraged while talking with Hwang and "accidentally" hit him.

Sa visited Hwang in the hospital on Friday and Saturday to apologize, but Hwang and his family have questioned Sa's sincerity and have not agreed to settle with him.

South Korean weightlifter Hwang Woo-man lies in a hospital bed in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, on Jan. 2, 2016, after getting allegedly assaulted by fellow lifter Sa Jae-hyouk. (Yonhap) South Korean weightlifter Hwang Woo-man lies in a hospital bed in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, on Jan. 2, 2016, after getting allegedly assaulted by fellow lifter Sa Jae-hyouk. (Yonhap)

The Chuncheon police will further question Sa to decide whether they will file for a warrant to arrest him.

With the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro only months away, both lifters have likely been ruled out of the competition, with Sa likely facing sanctions from the Korea Weightlifting Federation (KWF) and Hwang missing substantial training time with the injury.

Sa was the gold medalist in the men's 77kg class at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He suffered a dislocated elbow in his title defense in London in 2012, but he was back by the following year. Though he hasn't been nearly as effective after moving up a weight class in 2014, Sa remains one of the biggest names in South Korean weightlifting.

Hwang won the silver medal at the 2014 junior world championships in the men's over-105kg division, the heaviest class. The prospect appeared to have stalled in 2015, and the national team officials have said he remains a work in progress who could reach his prime by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

An official at the KWF said it had initially planned to finalize the national team this week and open a training camp next Monday, but Sa's assault case has forced the federation to postpone its training schedule.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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