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Jin aiming for 7th Olympic medal at 2020 Games

Shooting star hopes to dominate in 10 meter air pistol discipline
Aug 01,2019
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Jin Jong-oh trains at a shooting range in Seoul on July 11. [OH JONG-TAEK]
Jin Jong-oh has set his sights on winning his fifth gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

This time, rather than the 50 meter pistol, he is hoping to medal in the 10 meter air pistol.

Jin, who is the best shooter in the world, has won four gold medals at the Olympics throughout his career. Since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he defended his title in the men’s 50 meter pistol for three straight Olympic Games. At the 2012 London Olympics, he added another gold by winning the men’s 10 meter air pistol.

Despite his dominance in the men’s 50 meter pistol, he will no longer be able to extend his achievement as the event was removed from the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee removed the men’s 50 meter pistol and added the mixed 10-meter air rifle, pistol and trap, to allow gender equality at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I normally trained for the 50 meter pistol in the morning and practiced the 10 meter air pistol in the afternoon and at night,” Jin said. “But now, I spend all day practicing the 10 meter air pistol. In the 10 meter air pistol, it’s hard to make up for a mistake. You really, really have to concentrate.”

In addition to men’s 10 meter air pistol, Jin also hopes to compete in the mixed 10 meter air pistol.

To do so, Steyr Arms, a firearm company from Austria, customized a 10-meter air pistol just for Jin. It took a year to make it. The custom grip fits perfectly in Jin’s hand, which was used as model, and it also features a red barrel rather than the standard black.

Since May, he’s been using this gun.

“This kind of design never existed,” Jin said. “Not only is the barrel red, but so is the grip. Korea has a gun control law, but later, I want this gun to be exhibited at a museum.”

Jin has been competing with the national team for the past 18 years, but, after the Tokyo Olympics, he said he will retire.

“I’m all-in for the Tokyo Olympics,” Jin said. “It’ll probably be [my] last Olympics. By the next Olympics, I’ll be 45 so I don’t think that’ll be easy. I have pretty good vision but I’m scared of presbyopia. I still really like shooting. I already bought a gun for clay shooting for me to try when I get older. Once I retire, I want to share my skills and talent with the country.”

Starting from March to May, next year, Korea will hold the national team qualifier through six different events. Only the top two players with the highest scores will represent Korea at the Olympics.

To get ready for the games, Jin said he’ll quit drinking starting on Jan. 1, 2020.

“During the first day of the Olympics year, I don’t drink at all,” Jin said. “I need determination.”

If Jin does qualify for the Korean national shooting team, his biggest rival at the Summer Games is expected to be Saurabh Chaudhary of India. During the 2018 Asian Games, Chaudhary won gold in the men’s 10 meter air pistol, defeating Jin who failed to medal. Chaudhary’s victory was an upset as he was an unfamiliar player, while Jin is the world record holder in the event.

Despite the defeat, Jin is not too concerned about Chaudhary.

“I don’t think he has any fear yet, but if we compete at a big event, I think he’ll get scared,” Jin said. “I only recognize the players who are consistently ranked at the top.”

In Korea, Jin is tied for the record in the most number of Olympic medals with former archer Kim Soo-nyung, with four gold and two silver. If Jin wins any medal at the upcoming Olympics, he’ll become the sole record holder with seven Olympics medals.

“It doesn’t matter if I win a bronze,” Jin said. “If I win my seventh medal, it won’t be an easy record to break. If I join the national team next year, I think my motivation will be stronger. I really want to compete at the Olympics.”

BY PARK RIN [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]