The most important national competition of the year in Korea, the 89th National Sports Festival was held in Yeosu 11-14 October with some extremely promising results for Korean athletes. It has been a while since Korean athletes could even dream about a top eight finish at the major championships in any other event than the marathon, but now things seem to be changing for the better.
The biggest result of the competition came on the last day, Tuesday, with 22-year-old triple jump specialist Kim Deok-Hyung crushing the 21-year-old national record in the long jump with a 8.13m leap. Kim Won-Jin jumped 8.03m at the National Championships in Seoul on 12 June 1987 as an 18-year-old so he will still keep the national junior record to himself.
Kim Deok-Hyung is also the only Korean to go over 17 metres in the triple jump and placed 9th in the final at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. In Beijing he didn’t qualify for the final, but he did win the 2007 World University Games with all of these performances coming in triple jump.
On the first day of competition Kim suffered a shock defeat with the narrowest of margins in the hands of Ko Dae-Young, 23, who won with a wind aided 16.54 (+2.2) result before Kim’s 16.53m. Ko tied his best result in all conditions, in 2006 he also jumped a windy 16.54m with a 16.33m wind legal personal best during the same season.
Race Walking festival
Korean walkers were also in terrific form during the meeting. In the men’s walk Kim Hyun-Sub became the first Korean to dip under 1:20 in the 20km walk setting a 1:19:41 national record to win ahead of Park Chil-Sung, who also set a fast personal best 1:20:17. Park had set the earlier NR 1:20:20 in 2007 and placed 33rd at the Olympics with Kim’s earlier best being 1:20:54 from 2007 – he was 23rd in Beijing. Lee Dae-Ro set a season’s best 1:22:45 for third place and Byun Young-Jun a PB 1:22:59 for fourth.
In the women’s side there was a milestone performance too. 29-year-old Kim Mi-Jung lowered the national record to 1:29:38 to become the first Korean to go under 1:30. This was already Kim’s seventh national record during her career with the first one coming in 2001 and eighth straight victory at the National Sports Festival 2001-08. Kim was also 29th the Olympics.
Weon Aseas-Byeol completed the walking show in the women’s high school competition setting a national senior and junior record 44:57.89 in the 10,000m track walk.
Steeplechase records fall
Just 16-year-old Shin Sa-Hin (b. 23.4.92) held the national senior and junior record for less than a half hour winning the 3000m steeplechase in 10:32.03, but soon lost her records after the senior women’s race finished. Choi Kyung-Hee won in NR 10:24.74 with Lee Se-Jung setting national junior record for second place in 10:29.44.
A few more records were set with Choi Yun-Hee winning the women’s pole vault with a national record 4.16m and Hwang In-Sung won the men’s shot put with a 18.66m NR. Other good performances included Jeon-Duk-Hyung’s 100m/200m double in the men (10.48/20.99) and Lee Jung-Joon’s 13.65 win in the 110m hurdles ahead of Park Tae-Kyong who clocked 13.86 for second place.
Pole vault national record holder Kim Yoo-Suk won his event with a 5.30m clearance and Lee Yun-Chul, the only Korean to exceed 70m in the hammer, was best this time too with a 69.71m toss. Jung Sang-Jin surprised the favourite Park Jae-Myong in the javelin competition with a 75.75m season’s best against Park’s 75.59m.
Some good results were achieved in the women’s field events too. Jung Soon-Ok won the long jump with a 6.43m result and Jung Hye-Kyung topped the triple jump at 13.59m. Lee Mi-Young won the shot put with a 17.04m season’s best. In the hammer Lee Jae-Young set a national junior record 55.64m for the second place behind winner Kang Na-Ru who threw 60.51m.
Notable results in the men’s high school section included a 46.90s 400m by 17-year-old Park Bong-Go and long/triple jump double by Kim Sung-Ho (7.62m/15.93m).
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF