South Korea aims 10 gold medals at London Olympics

Last Updated: Apr 19, 2012, 14:55 PM IST

Seoul: South Korea aims to capture more than 10 gold medals for a top-10 finish in the London Olympics, with hopes running high after the country`s superlative performance at the last 2008 Beijing Games.

South Korea collected 13 golds in Beijing four years ago for a total of 31 medals and finished seventh in the medals table.

Around 250 South Korean athletes are expected to compete in the London Olympics July 27-Aug 12.

Among the athletes eagerly waiting for their chance to shine at the world`s biggest sporting event, weightlifting champion Jang Mi-ran and swimming star Park Tae-hwan will seek to defend their 2008 gold medals.

Jang, the 28-year-old female lifter, won the gold medal in the over-75 kg division with a new world record by lifting 140 kg in the snatch and 186 kg in the clean and jerk.

However, Jang had to watch her world records broken by fierce contenders while she was battling with injuries and struggling to remain in form after the Beijing Olympics. Russia`s Tatiana Kashirina now holds the world record in the snatch at 148 kg, while China`s Zhou Lulu has the world mark in combined total at 328 kg.

Jang raised expectations for another Olympic gold medal in London after she became the first athlete to win the national championships nine times in a row last year.

Park Tae-hwan became a national sensation after he won the country`s first ever Olympic swimming gold in the men`s 400-metre freestyle final in Beijing.

However, Park failed to reach any stages of the finals at the World Championships in 2009. Brushing off worries, Park bounced back to win three gold medals at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. In 2011, he successfully retained his 400m freestyle title at the Shanghai Worlds.

Park will compete in the 200m and 400m freestyle in London.

Earlier this year, Park told local media that his aim for the London Olympics is not just winning a medal but setting a new world record.

While star athletes contribute to strengthening South Korea`s chances of cracking the top 10, the country also relies not only on traditional mines like archery and taekwondo but also on judo, wrestling and badminton to bolster the medal tally.

For the first time in the country`s Olympic history, the government will set up a training camp in London, at Brunel University, to give a boost to athletes` performances.

IANS