By Oh Seok-min
INCHEON, Sept. 21 (Yonhap) -- Kim Cheong-yong, South Korea's new pistol shooting star, said the key to his winning two gold medals at this year's Asian Games on Sunday was to maintain his composure, just as he'd learned from his senior teammate Jin Jong-oh, an Olympic champ and world record holder.
The 17-year-old took the lesson to heart and, perhaps in a symbolic passing of the torch in South Korean shooting, beat Jin at his own game.
Kim Cheong-yong, a somewhat unfamiliar name even for the most ardent shooting fans here, became the country's first double gold medalist at the Asiad underway on his home soil, after winning the men's 10-meter pistol team event and the individual gold in the same distance. Jin joined Kim and Lee Dae-myung for the team gold but settled for bronze in the individual event.
Kim only picked up shooting three years ago and made the national team for the first time this year. Before Sunday, the highlight of his resume was the silver medal in the 10ｍ air pistol event at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.
Then Kim surprised everyone, including himself, by beating Pang Wei of China in the final, 201.2 to 199.3.
"I feel happy," the smiling prodigy said at a press conference, which he said was his "first ever.'
"In shooting events, it is almost impossible to predict who is going to win until the last shot is fired," Kim added. "I didn't expect the victory today, but I tried my best to the end."
Kim Cheong-yong (L), Jin Jong-oh (2nd from L) and Lee Dae-myung
Hours before the individual final, Kim, Jin and Lee won the gold medal in the team component. It was Kim's first career Asiad gold, but he had to keep his emotions in check to get himself ready for the one remaining event later in the day.
Asked how someone so young can compete in such a "brazen" way, Kim replied, "I've just learned like this. I prefer competing at my own, composed pace."
Kim then credited Jin with helping him become the shooter that he is today.
"Jin really taught me a lot," Kim said. "He said, 'If I do well in the first series (in the final), then I will be able to demonstrate my skills without mistakes.' Before going for the final today, he also gave me a lot of advice on how to control my mind. Shooting, after all, is not played by any physical factors but with thought."
Jin, 34, is more than qualified to offer young athletes advice. He is a triple Olympic champion and earlier this month at the world championships in Spain, he broke the world record in 50ｍ pistol that had stood for more than three decades.
Kim is a rare breed who shoots with his left hand, while Jin is right-handed. In Sunday's individual final, Kim competed next to Jin, and it's something he wants to do for a long time.
"I hope to compete for a long time as a shooter together with Jin," he said. Expressing confidence in conquering the international stage, he said he will "learn more first to reach the Olympic stage."
The rising hero also expressed his gratitude to his mother who has dedicated herself to supporting the boy and his deceased father.
"My mother suffered a lot to care for me, after my father passed away (three years ago)," Kim said with a smile. "After returning home, I will visit my father's grave to tell him this good news."
Jin, meanwhile, admitted he'd had a hard time preparing for the Asiad competition with a goal to clinch his first-ever individual Asiad gold.
Incheon was his forth Asiad appearance so far, but the veteran shooter has never been able to earn a gold on his own. On Saturday, he won the silver in the 50ｍ pistol team event but finished seventh in the individual final later.
"Shooting is not easy," Jin said. "I am now speechless as I failed to meet the expectations of the people who have greatly supported me.
"It is true that I've been weighed down by pressure of playing on home soil and of focusing too much on the goal of grabbing gold in the men's team events," he said. "I also felt like I almost reached my physical limit."
Though this year's pan-Asian competition took place right at home, the shooters, ironically, have had difficulties adapting themselves to the time zone here. They returned from Spain just one week before the Asiad's opening after the 2014 International Shooting Sport Federation's World Championship.
Jin got a cold after following such a hectic schedule and has appeared to need more time to get back in shape.
"I now have mixed feelings. I feel relieved but also somewhat regretful. I will do my best more," Jin said. "We witnessed the birth of this young hero today. I'd like to congratulate my colleague, Kim."