By Kim You Jin
INCHEON, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- As he prepares for what could be the last competition of his equestrian career, South Korean horseback rider Kim Dong-seon would like nothing more than to go out on top.
On the sidelines of his training session Tuesday here in Incheon, host of the 2014 Asian Games, Kim expressed hopes for an individual dressage gold medal in equestrian, saying he will follow the lead of his coach.
"I do want to claim first place, of course, but so far it hasn't been going so well (for me to be confident about winning)," Kim said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday.
The tall and slender rider, standing at nearly 189 centimeters, has won two team equestrian dressage golds at the last two Asian Games. Once, he was the youngest member of the team at the ripe age of 18.
Dressage is the most elegant of the equestrian disciplines, with a horse performing set movements or tests in response to its rider's signals.
Kim Dong-seon, a South Korean rider set to compete in equestrian at this year's Incheon Asian Games, poses with his horse in Incheon on Sept. 16, 2014. (Yonhap)
Kim, now 25, has yet to score any individual gold in his horseback-riding career.
"I will be competing with many other riders of great dexterity," Kim said, adding that his chances of ending his drought at this Asiad are "about 50 percent, at best."
Kim said while he isn't giving up hopes of reaching the top of the podium, he won't be too envious or disappointed should he lose to another athlete. He said understands how hard his rivals must have worked for their victory after having trained with them side by side.
In the meantime, however, he vowed to carefully adhere to the directions of his coach, Hubertus Schmidt, a former Olympic gold medalist from Germany who is scheduled to arrive in South Korea on Wednesday to help with Kim's training.
"Up until meeting Schmidt, I'd only trained with Korean coaches, so (learning under his guidance) is as if a whole new world has been unveiled in front of me," Kim said of his new mentor.
Stressing his firm belief in the German coach, Kim added, "Schmidt is, in my opinion, the world's top horseback rider with tons of experience. So I will not be stubborn about sticking to my own style and will follow his advice 100 percent, no matter what kind of result it may bring."
By winning the gold here, Kim might just erase painful memories from the recent World Equestrian Games. Kim came in at 66th place out of 100 participants, a result that he said was "quite disappointing."
Kim also has a desperation factor in his pursuit of gold. He has decided to tentatively retire from equestrian after this year's Asian Games in order to follow in the footsteps of his father, Kim Seung-youn, chairman of the South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group.
"(Hanwha) is building an enormous city in Iraq, so I'm planning on going there for three months starting in October to nurture my interest in the construction business," the young Kim said.
Hanwha Engineering and Construction Corp., a leading South Korean builder under his father's group, is undertaking a US$8 billion project to build a new city in Bismayah in the Middle Eastern country.
"I've decided that equestrian won't be a life-long vocation for me," the rider added. "But my passion for the sport will stay with me nonetheless."