I’m glad I followed my friend to Gangnam When Kim Min-ho (23) was in elementary school, he followed a friend to a chess class at a local cultural center and was fascinated by the 64-column black-and-white battlefield.
He had a disease that caused his muscles to degenerate as he aged, and he could barely brush his teeth on his own, but on the chessboard he was different: he was agile, a brilliant strategist, and an intrepid long player.
The joy of “checkmate” elevated his daily life.
He did not envy Alexander the Conqueror or Hanshin the Great. At a time when Korea was feeling rather small, an opportunity presented itself.
Kim Min-ho became the first South Korean chess player with a disability.
South Korea is sending 345 athletes (208 athletes and 137 officials) to the Para Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, from February 22-28. The country has athletes in 21 of the 22 sports (excluding visual soccer), including four sports where Korea is competing for the first time (Go, chess, canoeing, and taekwondo).
Kim Min-ho was also ‘imported’ for chess.
Park Jong-chul, the team’s general manager, said at the press conference on the 13th, “It was an unfamiliar sport for Para sports.
We were able to participate because there was one player registered with the Korean Chess Federation, a non-disabled organization.”
For Kim, it was his first international tournament and his first time traveling outside of Korea.
While he hasn’t lost in recent years in official matches against able-bodied players in South Korea, and his mastery of the opening (the opening move in chess, similar to a pawn in Go) is unrivaled, stamina is key.
He’ll have to play two games a day for three days and four nights, a challenge he’s never faced before. “Due to the nature of my body, it’s impossible to improve my physical strength. I’m working on my mental strength,” he laughed.
While there are many others like Kim who are facing the unknown, there are also many veterans on the Korean team who have been on the threshold of the world’s best. One of those veterans is table tennis player Kim Young-gun (39, Gwangju).
Heading into his sixth Para Asian Games, starting with the 2002 Busan Games (then known as the Asia-Pacific Para Games), he is a self-proclaimed “living legend” in the world of Para table tennis. 토토
He has won three gold medals at the Paralympic Games (2004-2012-2016) and back-to-back titles (individual and team) at the ParaAsian Games in 2014 and 2018.
In Para sports, athletes are categorized according to the type and severity of their impairment, which sets the bar for competition. It’s a similar concept to weight classes in martial arts. In table tennis, there are 11 classes, and Kim is in Class 4, which means he competes in a wheelchair.
In other words, as far as men’s Class 4 is concerned, Kim has been the best in the world for more than 20 years.
“I practice so much that my coaches stop me, and I’m lucky that I don’t have any injuries,” he says, adding that his world ranking has recently dropped to second place. I’m determined to reverse that in Hangzhou.”
As in previous Asian Games, there is a lot of excitement in the air as South Korean athletes head to the land of showdown after a five-year wait.
Kim Hee-jin (28-Seoul City Hall), captain of the women’s goalball (a team ball game for the visually impaired) team that finished runner-up at last year’s World Championships and qualified for the Paralympics for the first time in 28 years, is eyeing her first Asian podium in 15 years.
“This is my third Para-Asian Games, and I have yet to win a medal,” she said. “I get a lot of pleasure from blocking each ball thrown by my opponent. I’m going to come back with a broken body, just like I always do,” he said
The boccia (ball sports for people with severe disabilities) team, which has won nine consecutive Paralympic Games, is also ready. “We got our own stadium at Icheon Athletes’ Village in September,” said Lim Kwang-taek, head coach of boccia.
“It’s hard for coaches to motivate their players, but with the stadium, they’re naturally motivated,” he said. “Even if they’re not supposed to train at night, they still come out to train in the evening and early morning.
I think Hangzhou will benefit greatly from having a dedicated stadium,” he said, expressing his confidence. With faith in themselves and determination, the team held an induction ceremony on the 18th. The team is aiming for fourth place overall.
Meanwhile, North Korea, which made its first international appearance in five years at the Hangzhou Asian Games, has decided not to participate in the Para Asian Games.
North Korea was banned from flying artificial flags at international competitions in 2021 for violating World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules, and the decision was made after the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) asked the country to comply with the discipline.
It had previously flown an artificial flag during the Asian Games with the acquiescence of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).