[Tokyo Olympics] From gymnast to baseball star to fencer, 2nd generation athletes seek to make families proud

South Korean artistic gymnast Yeo Seo-jeong will try to match in Tokyo this summer what her father did 25 years ago in Atlanta: win an Olympic medal.

Yeo, 19, won an Asian Games gold medal in women’s vaulting in 2018, adding it to the two Asian Games gold medals her father, Yeo Hong-chul, won in 1994 and 1998 Her mother, Kim Yoonji, was also a gymnast and won bronze in the women’s team event at the 1994 Asian Games.

In this family of gymnasts, senior Yeo is the only one to hold an Olympic medal, a silver medal in the men’s vault since 1996.

After finishing fifth in vault at the 2019 world championships, she will try to become the first South Korean gymnast to step onto an Olympic podium.

Perhaps the most famous second-generation South Korean Olympian this year is Lee Jung-hoo, a star outfielder for the baseball team. The 2017 Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) Rookie of the Year is a very successful baseball player himself, but it will take a little longer for him to fully emerge from the shadow of his father, the legend. retired KBO Lee Jong-beom.

At the height of his powers in the 1990s, senior Lee was the South Korean league’s most complete player, an elegant shortstop who struck for power and average and stole 80 bases.

His son, who plays in the outfield, has become a real hitting machine, with a career batting average of .337 in his fifth season. Jung-hoo doesn’t quite have the tools his dad had, but on the other hand, his dad never played in the Olympics.

South Korea was eliminated from the qualifying stages for the 1992 and 2004 Olympics when Lee Jong-beom was on the national team.

One of his KBO contemporaries, Yoon Hak-gil, also has a child who competes in these Olympics, but not baseball.

Yoon Ji-su will compete in her second consecutive Olympic Games in women’s saber fencing, chasing her first medal.

Senior Yoon holds the all-time KBO record with 100 full games pitched. The next pitcher on the list is 81, and no active pitcher is ranked in the top 20. Although she participates in a different sport, relentlessness and determination are probably also in Ji-su’s blood.

His father pitched at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where baseball was still a demonstration sport. South Korea lost to the United States in the semifinals and then to Chinese Taipei in the bronze medal match.

Park Ji-su of the women’s basketball team also comes from a sports family. His father, Park Sang-gwan, played for the men’s national team in the early 1990s, but never at the Olympics. He married a former national junior volleyball player named Lee Soo-kyung. Their first child, Park Joon-hyuk, played basketball growing up, but eventually became a professional volleyball player. Ji-su has remained loyal to basketball and now plays for the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA.

She is the first in her family to compete in the Olympics. (Yonhap)


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