By Yoo Jee-ho
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) -- In a span of about six hours Thursday at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, South Korean taekwondo fighter went through quite a ride.
He lost in the quarterfinals in the men's -68kg, losing a chance to win an Olympic gold, the only piece of jewelry missing in his glittering resume.
Then when the man who eliminated him, Ahmad Abughaush of Jordan, reached the final, Lee got a second life. He was placed in the repechage round, where two wins would net him a bronze medal.
South Korea's Lee Dae-hoon celebrates winning a bronze medal in the men's -68kg taekwondo at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Aug. 18, 2016. (Yonhap)
He did just that, taking down Jaouad Achab of Belgium in the bronze medal contest.
Lee said afterward he came away from the adventure a more mature man.
"It's hard to single out one thing, but I think I've learned a great deal here," he said. "Competing under such a bright spotlight, I think I've grown up, and this experience really taught me quite a bit."
More specifically, the 24-year-old said he has to become "more efficient" in his training. The man who has won two Olympic medals, two world championships and two Asian Games gold medals must have been doing something right, but Lee isn't afraid to change.
"In terms of improving my strength and agility, I think I need to adopt more systematic regimens," he said. "I really want to learn the new ways and change my body."
Lee Dae-hoon of South Korea raises the hand of Ahmad Abughaush of Jordan after losing to him in the quarterfinals of the men's -68kg taekwondo at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Aug. 18, 2016. (Yonhap)
After losing the quarterfinals match, Lee had said he could live with the loss and not winning a medal here wouldn't spell the end of his life.
Lee revealed later, however, that the loss ate at him inside.
"I will remember this as a disappointing Olympics because I didn't win a gold," he said. "While I was waiting for repechage matches, I received a lot of encouragement. People seemed even more devastated than I was. I was hurt inside, but I didn't want to seem like that on the outside."
After the end of the quarterfinals loss, Lee graciously applauded the winner, and grabbed Abughaush's hand and raised it in celebration.
"When a loser can't accept the defeat, then the winner won't be able to enjoy his victory," Lee said. "But if the loser accepts the result, the winner can enjoy it even more. I thought it was all part of good sportsmanship."