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(Olympics) S. Korean bobsleigh team can inspire Asia: Canadian coach

2018/02/26 14:00

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By Joo Kyung-don

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) -- After making history with South Korea's four-man bobsleigh team at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Canadian coach Pierre Lueders believes that their achievement can inspire other bobsledders in Asia.

Lueders, who has been with the South Korean bobsleigh team since last year, was one of the key figures that helped South Korea grab a historic silver medal in the four-man bobsleigh competition at the PyeongChang Olympics on Sunday. South Korea is now the first Asian nation to have a medal in an Olympic bobsleigh event.

"This is really great for this part of the world, because (bobsleigh is) a new sport here," Lueders told Yonhap News Agency after Sunday's competition. "It shows that if you work hard and have the right people, staff and equipment, you can do very well."

   Lueders, who piloted Canada's two-man bobsleigh team to gold at Nagano 1998 and silver at Torino 2006, said he just told South Korea's four bobsledders -- Won Yun-jong, Seo Young-woo, Jun Jung-lin and Kim Dong-hyun -- to focus on their jobs.

"I told them don't worry about the other teams and what they're doing," he said. "I also told them don't think about the end result and medals. Just run by run, corner by corner and take it slow."

  

This file photo taken Feb. 16, 2018, shows Pierre Lueders, a Canadian coach working for the South Korean national bobsleigh team, at Olympic Sliding Centre in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap) This file photo taken Feb. 16, 2018, shows Pierre Lueders, a Canadian coach working for the South Korean national bobsleigh team, at Olympic Sliding Centre in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap)

The South Korean team, piloted by Won, didn't have an impressive start in the competition, but its superb driving technique led to a tie for second place. The team clocked 3 minutes, 16.38 seconds after four runs at Olympic Sliding Centre in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, and shared silver with a German team led by Nico Walther.

The South Korean four-man team was only ranked 50th this season and wasn't considered a medal contender. For its surprising result, Lueders said it's a result of teamwork and the collaborative work of everyone.

"We obviously have other coaches working hard, and it's a team," he said. "Everybody worked together, and some athletes who couldn't slide at the Olympics did all the testing for us."

   Lueders, who also delivered two gold to the Russia team as a coach at Sochi 2014, said its intensive training also worked.

"The Korean team did 258 runs this year in order to try to win a medal, and it worked," he said. "We also tried to keep the environments more like it wasn't training. We opened up the start house to more people, and we just went back to what we did in training to make it feel more like home."

   For the PyeongChang Olympics, much anticipation was on the two-man bobsleigh team of Won and Seo, who had previously topped the world rankings in the 2015-16 season. But at the Winter Olympics at home, the duo picked up a somewhat less-than-expected sixth-place finish.

Won's team had a poor run in their opening heat, finishing just 11th. It started the first run last in the order, which is considered a big disadvantage considering ice surface conditions.

"When you're at home Olympics and starting from the very back, I think maybe there was too much pressure and (Won) tried too hard to have a good run," Lueders said. "But the good thing was he didn't quit. I know it would have been very easy for the entire team and all of Korea to give up, but they showed. I just kept emphasizing and telling them just keep working, try to get a better run, fix a few corners. And every run they got better and better."

   After all, Lueders said he's proud of what the South Korean bobsledders have achieved.

"I know what it is like to go through the Olympics and win medals, but they're going to be in for a lot of celebrations the next few weeks for sure," he said. "It's tremendous results for the entire Korean Olympic team. I think they're going to be really embraced by the nation."

  

South Korea's four-man bobsleigh team celebrates after winning silver in the four-man bobsleigh event at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics at Olympic Sliding Centre on Feb. 25, 2018. (Yonhap) South Korea's four-man bobsleigh team celebrates after winning silver in the four-man bobsleigh event at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics at Olympic Sliding Centre on Feb. 25, 2018. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr

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