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Swimmer Kim Seo-yeong gets top prize at 24th Coca-Colas

Feb 26,2019
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Awardees at the 24th Coca-Cola Sports Awards post for a group photo during a ceremony at the Westin Chosun Seoul in central Seoul on Monday. [NEWS1]
Swimmer Kim Seo-yeong was named the top amateur athlete of the year at the 24th Coca-Cola Sports Award in Seoul on Monday.

By winning the top award, Kim received 10 million won ($8,900) in prize money. At the 2018 Asian Games, Kim won gold in the women’s 200-meter individual medley. Kim’s race time of 2 minutes and 08.34 seconds not only beat her personal best but was also good enough to break the Asian Games record.

It was the first time in eight years that Korea has won gold in swimming. At the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, Park Tae-hwan won three gold - 100-, 200- and 400-meter freestyle - and Jeong Da-rae won gold in the 200-meter breaststroke.

However, looking at her category, individual medley, Kim was the first female Korean swimmer in 36 years to win the title. Before Kim, Choi Yun-hui was the only other Korean female swimmer to win gold in individual medley at the 1982 Asian Games.

“I wasn’t sure if I should be receiving such a big award,” Kim said after receiving the award. “I think this will be a great motivation for me ahead of the new season. I’ll work harder so Kim Seo-yeong is the first name that comes to [fans’ minds] when they talk about swimming.”

Kim will start her season on Friday with the first national team qualifier in Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang.

Aside from the top award, a lot more athletes were given recognition with awards for their outstanding performance throughout 2018.

Taekwondo practitioner Lee Dae-hoon won the men’s top individual award while boxer Oh Yeon-ji was named the top female individual. Lee Dae-hoon won three straight gold medals at the Asian Games and Oh became the first female boxer to win gold at the Asian Games. Lee Do-yeon, who won two golds at the 2018 Para Asian Games, was named the top impaired athlete of the year.

The Korean fencing team, who won a total of 15 medals - six gold, three silver and six bronze - at the Asian Games, was named the team of the year. Kim Hak-bum, who coached the U-23 Korean men’s football team at the 2018 Asian Games, was named the coach of the year. Under Kim, Korea successfully defended their title at the Asian Games.

For the Rookie of the Year award, Yeo Seo-jeong, gold medalist in women’s vault at the 2018 Asian Games, was named the female rookie, while 16-year-old tennis player Cho Dae-seong was named male rookie of the year. Yeo became the first Korean gymnast in 32 years to win gold in women’s vault at the Asian Games.

Late cyclist Lee Min-hye, a two-time Asian Games gold medalist, won one of two special awards. Lee died of leukemia in November 2018. Lee competed in three Asian Games, in 2006, 2010 and 2014. The women’s canoeing team also won the special award. At the 2018 Asian Games, the canoeing team competed with North Korea and won gold in dragon boat racing.

The annual Coca-Cola Sports Award has been given to amateur athletes since 1995. Most recently last year, skeleton racer Yun Sung-bin and speed skater Lee Seung-hoon won the top award for their performance at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

BY KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]