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Women's curling coaches face allegations of verbal abuse

2014/03/28 14:52

SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- The national governing body of curling said Friday it will look into allegations that coaches of the women's national curling team verbally abused their athletes.

"We plan to convene a disciplinary committee meeting today to look into these allegations," said an official with the Korea Curling Federation.

A local media report said earlier Friday that five curlers, Kim Ji-sun, Gim Un-chi, Shin Mi-sung, Um Min-ji and Lee Seul-bee, have threatened to leave their semi-pro club at Gyeonggi Provincial Government in protest of abusive practices by head coach Chung Young-sup and assistant coach Choi Min-suk.

All five curlers competed for South Korea at the Sochi Winter Olympics last month, with Chung and Choi as their coaches. They were knocked out after the round robin stage but their Olympic debut gave the niche sport newfound national recognition.

Then earlier this month in Canada, the five curlers teamed up again and reached the semifinals at the world championships.

Officials at both the national federation and at Gyeonggi Provincial Government said they haven't yet confirmed whether the five athletes are considering leaving the team.

The official with the national curling body said coaches tend to raise their voice in the heat of the competition. The official also added that the coaches have denied they had made any sexually abusive gestures or comments.

The official, however, said Chung, the head coach, might have asked his athletes to share some of their prize money that they received at the Olympics and the world championships.

"Chung once said he wanted to share the joy with other curlers in the junior ranks and he would ask the national team curlers to donate about 10 million won (US$9,360) together," the official said. "I said it wasn't a good idea but he probably told his athletes."

   The national federation hasn't been able to reach the curlers or their family members in the aftermath of the allegations, the official added.