“Jiegun” means “great” or “strong” in the local dialect of Hangzhou, China. We wish the Korean athletes the best of luck at the Para Asian Games.
Yoo Byung-hoon (right) competes in the wheelchair marathon.
For a able-bodied runner to compete in the Olympic 100 meters and marathon at the same time is an impossible
mission. The same goes for athletes with disabilities. But South Korean track and field athlete Yoo Byung-hoon
(51, Gyeongbuk Para Athletic Association) competed in the 100 meters and marathon, as well as the 400 and 800 meters at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021.
“Athletics is an unpopular sport in Para sports,” he said at the time.
Young athletes think it’s a tough sport, and not many of them try it,” he said at the time, adding, “I want to be a motivator for my juniors.”
Yoo is only competing in the 100 and 800 meters at the Para Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Instead, he plans
to focus on the marathon after the Games. “It’s not easy to let go,” he said when we met at the athletes’ village on
the 23rd. “I’m going to run only on the road for the last time. I will not compete in track events at the Paris Paralympics next year.”
Yoo has competed in six consecutive Para Asian Games from 2002 in Busan to this one, winning seven silver and
five bronze medals. He has also won medals at the Paralympic Games and World Championships. “I want to win
gold this time, but my realistic goal is silver,” said Yoo. “I want to end my representative career with good memories, good memories, and good experiences.”
Yoo Byung-hoon in front of the camera at the Hangzhou Para Asian Games Athletes’ Village.
“I was also reborn through exercise,” he said.
Encouraging people with disabilities to exercise. “I used to be a timid and quiet person, but when I started
exercising, my personality changed and my attitude towards life changed 180 degrees,” he said. “You can’t choose
your disability, but you can choose your life afterwards. Exercise has the power to change your life,” he emphasized.
He continued, “When I went to international competitions, I was very envious of the young athletes in other
countries. I’m not always happy that I’m still playing for my country when I’m over 40,” he said, adding, “I hope
the younger generation will try athletics more.”
The situation is even worse for marathons. There are literally “very few” athletes in South Korea who can
compete in international wheelchair marathons. Yoo lamented the lack of wheelchair marathons in Korea,
saying, “The world’s six major marathons, including New York, Tokyo, London, Berlin, Boston, and Chicago, all have wheelchair divisions.”
“Currently, wheelchair users can’t choose whether to run a short distance or a marathon,” Yoo said. “I want to do well in the marathon, and I want to open the way for wheelchair users to find a sport they want to run and challenge themselves.” 슬롯사이트