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Life after Olympics for Korean athletes
Publication Date : 15-08-2012
With the curtains closed on the London Olympics, the eyes of Koreans have been turned to the future course of their outstanding Olympians who play for foreign clubs abroad.
The most distinguished among the athletes who raised their profile remarkably in the Games is Kim Yeon-koung, who played the mainstay for her country to finish fourth in Olympic women’s volleyball.
She was named the leading scorer of the 2012 Olympic Games women’s volleyball competition with 207 points in total, and went on to be honored as the most valuable player. Her MVP award as a Korean came 39 years after Cho Hye-jung had been picked as the MVP of the 1973 World Cup. It is unusual for a player from the No. 4 team to be named MVP.
In terms of a rate converting spikes to points, Kim ranked third with 35.57 percent. Destinee Hooker of the US topped the best spiker category with the point conversion ratio of 37.93 per cent.
Had it not been for Kim, who scored 25.9 points per game on average, South Korea, ranked 15th in the world, would have found it near impossible to finish fourth in the Olympic women’s volleyball contest, its best standing since the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
But back on the domestic front, Kim is mired in a dispute with her original local volleyball club, which has raised an issue of her deal with a foreign team.
About a week before the start of the London Olympic Games, Kim announced she had signed up with a Turkish club, Fenerbahce, through her agent. She claimed that she had completed her contract with her Korean team, the Heungkuk Life Insurance volleyball club, but the Korean club didn’t recognize her claim, arguing that her lease should be excluded from her contract period. The Heungkuk team maintains that Kim’s deal with the Turkish club should be invalid, because she did not get its consent beforehand.
Attention is drawn to how her brilliant Olympic performance, which gave South Korea the best standing in 36 years, will affect her conflict with her Korean team.
Ki Sung-yeung, a key player of the South Korean football team in the London Games, is another Olympic athlete who got much attention from the global soccer community.
The 23-year-old midfielder of Celtic, a Scottish Premier League club, was outstanding for this country, netting the winning penalty that knocked out Team Great Britain to give South Korea its chance to win bronze.
Playing every single minute of all six games until the bronze medal match, he showed precise passing, excellent ball control and distribution as well as untiring physical strength.
The bronze medal won by South Korea has also granted its players, including Ki, exemption from military service, an important factor to be reckoned with when it comes to his salary or transfer negotiations.
Reports say several big-league clubs, including Liverpool, Arsenal, Man City and Queens Park Rangers, are in on the hunt for Ki and have made their interest known.
Eyes are on how much his Olympic profile may affect his career as a promising international footballer.