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S. Korea Pins Hope on Speed-skaters for Olympic Golds
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South Korea will pin hope of gold medals on its short-track speed skaters at the Turin Winter Olympics.

At the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, South Korea finished sixth in the medals standings with six medals including four golds in short-track speed skating.

However, it slid to 12th place four years later in Nagano, Japan, and further downed to 14th place in Salt Lake City in 2002   with just two gold and two silver medals.

In Turin, South Korea hopes for at least one more gold medal, counting on world number one short track speed skaters Ahn  Hyun-Soo and Jin Sun-Yu.

"Our goal in Turin is to win more than three, which will be enough for us to finish among the top 10 again," said Byun Tak, head of the 80-member South Korean squad.

"We have been traditionally strong in short track speed skating," he said.

The tradition has been maintained recently by Ahn and Jin, who were unbeatable at last year's World Cup championships.

Ahn, 21, is now top-ranked in the men's 1,500 meters race, and Jin, 18, the country's rising star, swept four women's races at the 3rd World Cup in November.

Apart from short-track relay events, other medal hopefuls for South Korea include speed skater Lee Kang-Seok and ski jumper Kang Min-Hyock.

Lee, 21, set a national record of 34.55 seconds last year in the 500-meter race, 0.25 seconds behind the world record of 34.30 seconds, and Kang, 25, may provide the country's first medal in ski jumping.

Byun said the Turin Olympiad would also set the stage for South Korea's ski resort town of Pyongchang to renew its campaign to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

(Xinhua News Agency Feb.1, 2006)

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