SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's 21-year-old short track speed skater Lim Hyo-jun is hoping to shine at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, propelled by the "never-give-up" spirit that has kept him going through a myriad of injuries.
Lim was a lesser-known skater until he grabbed a ticket to PyeongChang during the national team trials last April. In an unexpected development, Lim outperformed veterans, including Lee Jung-su, a double gold medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and Park Se-yeong, a national team mainstay since 2014.
While Lim's rise came as a surprise, his advancement did not come from luck, but was based on his resilient spirit, which started in his elementary school years.
South Korean short track speed skater Lim Hyo-jun speaks to reporters at a training center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, in this file photo taken on Jan. 10, 2018. (Yonhap)
Lim was originally a swimmer, but switched to short track speed skating after hurting his tympanum. Incidentally, his swimming pool was turned into an ice rink around that time, and Lim quickly proved his talent by outpacing older athletes.
The skater was on a roll until he broke his leg during his first year at middle school, which forced him to leave the ice for more than a year. But Lim did not give up, and later left his home in Daegu, 300 kilometers south of Seoul, to continue his training in the capital city.
Struggling to get back on track, Lim slipped in high school and injured his ankle, which sidelined him for another six months.
Other injuries continued to follow, resulting in a whopping seven surgeries. Lim, however, still refused to quit.
The skater eventually passed the Olympic trials last year, even though he was virtually unknown even at that point.
Winning the Olympic trials in South Korea for short track speed skating is considered nearly as difficult as grabbing a medal in the Winter Games. South Korea leads all nations with 21 gold medals and 42 medals in total in Olympic short track.
Lim later proved that his performance at trials was not just luck.
The newcomer won both the 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter titles at the first World Cup in Budapest last year. Due to a back injury, however, he did not join the next two World Cups.
Lim is still recovering, but if his past is any indication, nothing will keep him down for so long that he won't get to star at the Olympics.
South Korean short track speed skater Lim Hyo-jun takes part in the International Skating Union World Cup Short Track Speed Skating at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul, in this file photo taken on Nov. 19, 2017.