Korea wins 12th gold as men's football team fizzles
Korea took one step closer to matching its record for the most gold medals at a single Olympics, but a disappointing game by the men's football team dampened positive vibes from Tuesday.
Korean Kim Hyeon-woo won the gold in the men's 66-kilogram Greco-Roman wrestling. Kim edged Tamas Lorincz of Hungary by the period score of 2-0 for South Korea's 12th gold medal in London. The country is just one gold medal shy of the record 13 won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
But the men's football squad fizzled in Manchester hours later, falling to Brazil 3-0 in the lopsided semifinal contest. South Korea recorded just one shot on net as Leandro Damiao scored two second-half goals on top of Romulo's first-half score.
The deflating loss came on the heels of Korea's shootout victory over host Britain in the quarterfinals. Korea now faces Japan in the bronze medal contest Friday.
At ExCeL Arena in London, Kim, his right eye almost swollen shut from hard battles in earlier bouts, defended himself from the ground position for his first point. He then earned two insurance points when Lorincz was penalized for kicking him in the legs.
Greco-Roman wrestling bans tackles or trips below the waist.
Kim celebrated his victory by spreading out the national flag, taegeukgi, on the mat and taking a bow toward the stands. He said he wanted to show his appreciation toward coaches and also the fans.
"For a few years, I've tried to imagine myself on an Olympic podium and picture myself celebrate," he said. "But now that I actually won the gold, I just went numb."
Kim, 23, said wrestling "is my life," and added, "I think this victory will change my life."
Elsewhere Tuesday, the women's handball team reached its eighth straight Olympic semifinals. It squeezed past Russia 24-23, preserving the victory with key late-minute defensive stops and last-gasp goals by Gwon Han-na.
Gwon, a 22-year-old Olympic rookie, had mostly warmed the bench for five group stage matches. But she led Korea with six goals against Russia, including the goal that gave South Korea a 23-22 lead with about three minutes left.
"I tried to play with confidence, believing I could score every time I took a shot," Gwon said. "I am not the type to get nervous before games anyway."
South Korea will face Norway in the semis. In the group stage, the two teams played to a 27-27 draw.
It's also a rematch from the semifinals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when Norway edged South Korea 29-28 with a last-second goal. South Korea settled for bronze then.
The women's volleyball is also among the final four, after defeating Italy 3-1 (25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 25-18). That sets up a semifinal date against the U.S., which beat South Korea by the set score of 3-1 in the preliminary round. Korea hasn't won a volleyball Olympic medal since 1976.
Earlier in the day, the women's table tennis team lost to Singapore in the bronze medal match. Kim Kyung-ah, Seok Ha-jung and Dang Ye-seo were helpless against Singapore's Feng Tianwei, Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu, who dominated two singles matches and one doubles match with an array of hard smashes and sharp returns.
This is the first time Korea has failed to win a medal in women's table tennis since the sport became a medal event in 1988.
The country can get to gold medal No. 13 Wednesday, with taekwondo world champion Lee Dae-hoon taking the mat in the men's under-58㎏ class. (LONDON=Yonhap)