Stars of Asiad

(Asiad) Star-crossed gymnast wants clean slate as S. Korean coach

2014/09/19 09:13

INCHEON, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- As long as he remains in the sport, former South Korean gymnast Yang Tae-young will be linked to one of the most controversial incidents in Olympic history at the 2004 Athens Games, when a scoring error robbed him of a gold medal.

The star-crossed former athlete, now a coach on the national gymnastics team, said he'd like nothing more than to receive a clean slate in his new career. In an interview with Yonhap News Agency Thursday, Yang, now 34, said he wants to be a "responsible" coach for the younger athletes.

"As a gymnast, I used to think the world revolved around myself, but I've learned to be more responsible as a coach," said Yang, who switched to coaching in 2010 after sustaining an injury that led to his retirement.

"Now, I want to give my all to the gymnasts," he added.

Former South Korean gymnast Yang Tae-young (R) returns to the South Korean national gymnastics team as a coah after losing a gold medal to American Paul Hamm (C) due to a scoring error at the 2004 Athens Olympics. (Yonhap file photo) Former South Korean gymnast Yang Tae-young (R) returns to the South Korean national gymnastics team as a coah after losing a gold medal to American Paul Hamm (C) due to a scoring error at the 2004 Athens Olympics. (Yonhap file photo)

The South Korean was at the center of a controversy at the 2004 Athens Olympics in which a tenth of a point was unfairly deducted from his starting score on the parallel bars component in the individual all-around event. The error cost him a gold medal, which ended up going to Paul Hamm of the United States.

Yang, the youngest coach on South Korea's gymnastics team, said he'd now like to help the gymnasts pull off "perfect performances" so that scoring miscues, should they ever occur again, ultimately won't affect their results. Also, Yang said he hopes he can be quick on his feet and respond accordingly whenever his athletes find themselves in similar judging controversies.

The key to his job, Yang said, is good communication.

"Gymnasts nowadays are different in that they prefer open communication to top-down orders," he said. "So I try to communicate with them as much as I can and try to see things from their point of view."

   South Korea will compete in the men's and women's artistic gymnastics event at the upcoming Asian Games starting Sunday, with reigning Olympic champ Yang Hak-seon expected to take his second straight Asiad gold in the men's vault with his signature "Yang 2."

   Coach Yang will then follow the male cohort to the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Nanning, China, which is scheduled to take place from Oct. 3-12.

"Most of the gymnasts, except for Yang Hak-seon, don't have a lot of international experience since we're going through a transition," the coach said. "But they're all trying really hard so I hope that their efforts are remembered even if they don't get the scores we have hoped for."

   sojungpark@yna.co.kr

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