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Vaulting to Olympic gold: Gymnast Shin Jea-hwan's Tokyo 2020 story Updated: 2021-08-12 10:02:51 KST

Nine years after Yang Hak-seon claimed gold in the London Games, Tokyo 2020 saw the rise of another master gymnast from South Korea.
23-year-old Shin Jea-hwan vaulted himself to the top of the Olympic podium on August second, beating the Russian Olympic Committee's Denis Abliazin in a nail-biting tie-breaker to win South Korea's second ever gold medal in artistic gymnastics.

"I prepared for the Olympics with the bronze medal as my goal, but after finishing my attempts in first place with just two competitors remaining, I started craving the gold medal knowing it was mine if I could get past the two remaining athletes. I know it's naughty of me, but I just wanted to win gold."

In his second attempt, Shin pulled off the "Yeo 2," a move named after 1996 Atlanta silver medalist Yeo Hong-chul, who he credits as one of the gymnasts who paved the way for the next generation of Korean vaulters.
Shin's Olympic journey didn't come easy, though, despite many mentors by his side.
The one-year delay brought on by COVID-19 hampered preparations and it didn't help that the he trains at a gym lacking equipment.

"Even though there's only a women's team, the Jecheon team accepted me as one of their own. I'm their only male gymnast though and it's a bit uncomfortable that there isn't any men's gymnastics equipment That's why it'd be great if the city can establish a men's team and build a new, private gym for the gymnasts."

With stronger support in the future, Shin, like Yeo Hong-chul, might be able to develop a vault bearing his own name: the Shin Jea-hwan.

"Believe me, I want to but there are only three years left until Paris 2024 and I don't think adding half a turn to the Yonekura is possible. I'll definitely give it a try though."

Long-term, he wishes to pursue a doctorate degree in education but for now, the Olympic champion's chosen to chase sporting greatness.

"I've always wanted to compete at the highest level for as long as I can so if the situation allows, I'd like to continue performing at the Olympics beyond Paris 2024."

This leaves space for more gymnastics glory in Paris and possibly even Los Angeles in 2028.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News.
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