- Bobsledder considered a strong medal favorite for the host nation.
|▲ The Korean Unification Flag|
Eagerly anticipated news was finally made public a few days ago, as it was announced that bobsledder Won Yun-jong will carry the unified flag for Korea at tonight's opening ceremony. He will carry it with an as yet undecided female athlete from the North.
The two Koreas will march together for the tenth time at an international competition, the first time on home soil since the Asian Games in Busan back in 2002.
The 32-year-old began his career in 2010 and quickly rose up the ranks in the men’s two-man discipline, winning an overall World Cup title in 2016 with his teammate, Seo Young-woo.
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The current season has not been as successful for Won, as he finds himself in a distant 21st place with only 440 points, well behind the leader, Canadian Justin Kripps.
Despite the results, he is confident of having a good showing at the Games, and feels prepared to take his career to the next level, having his sights set on a medal at the least.
“The ultimate goal for athletes is to win an Olympic gold medal. We want the people to think we won the medal because we were good enough to do so, not just because we were racing at home,” he was quoted as saying last year.
A lot is hinging on these Games being a success, especially with North Korea’s participation in Pyeongchang. Some see success as the host nation being able to win as many medals as possible to show the world that it too can be a first-rate competitor in winter sports on the world stage.
Training for the two-man event is currently ongoing, and the first heat will take place on Feb. 18. Competitors will race around the Alpensia Sliding Center track four times in total, with the best total time being awarded gold.
What else is going on?
In other news regarding the opening ceremony, speed skater Mo Tae-bum, who won the first ever gold medal for South Korea at a Winter Olympics when he won the men’s 500 meters in Vancouver in 2010, will recite the Olympic oath along with a female athlete from the North.
The oath is a promise made by one athlete and one official from the host nation, to compete fairly within the rules of each respective sport, with sportsmanship and honor, while the official vows to judge competition fairly so that the best athlete wins.
Another hopeful at the track for South Korea is newly crowned World Cup skeleton champion Yun Sung-bin, who clinched the title only weeks ago, following a season in which he garnered five victories and a total of 1,545 points, 38 more than his nearest competitor, German Axel Jungk.
The day has finally arrived.
The torch relay, which began its journey on home ground here on Jeju last November will be lit tonight and the Games will finally be underway. Under the motto “Let Everyone Shine,” South Korea now has a chance to prove to the rest of the world that it can, and will do just that.
Branko Belan firstname.lastname@example.org