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Park hosts lunch for Sochi athletes

2014/03/05 17:11

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye hosted a luncheon Wednesday for South Korean athletes who competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics, saying they were "true heroes" who gave courage and confidence to the people.

The luncheon at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae was attended by about 170 athletes and sports officials, including speed skater Lee Sang-hwa, short tracker Park Seung-hi and figure skater Kim Yu-na.

Park welcomed them all, saying she was proud of the dauntless spirit and courage the athletes displayed throughout last month's Winter Games.

"All of the athletes, each one of them, were true heroes who planted courage and confidence in the hearts of the people," Park said. "I give you another warm round of applause for your beautiful challenge and thank you for displaying the pride of the Republic of Korea."

   South Korea sent its largest-ever Winter Olympics delegation to the games in Russia's resort city of Sochi, with 71 athletes competing in every sport except hockey. It ended in 13th place, with three gold medals -- one by speed skater Lee and two by short tracker Park -- three silver medals and two bronze, coming up just short of its stated goal of winning four gold for a top-10 finish in the medals.

Park noted, however, that the atmosphere at home was different during this year's games than in the past as the public was less interested in the medals and more encouraging toward the athletes, including those who competed in events South Korea is less competitive in, such as curling and bobsleigh.

She also said the government will work to support the athletes in every way possible so that they can prepare well for the next Winter Olympics in South Korea's eastern alpine town of PyeongChang.