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Dae-Hoon Lee: "I will challenge the gold medal in Mexico"

Dae-Hoon Lee: "I will challenge the gold medal in Mexico"

Dae-Hoon Lee (21, Yong-in University) was one of the athletes most expected to win gold medal  among the Korean national team that participated in London 2012.
The reason why he was highly expected to achieve the gold is because he was used to score higher when the Daedo protector was used than when the standard Korean protector was the chosen one. And secondly because of his physical advantage. Lee has a significantly high stature (182cm) compared to his weight category (-58kg), which gives him more chances to hit his opponent’s face.
Finally, his result at London was the silver medal. Even though it is certainly a success, that silver medal didn’t actually meet his nation’s expectations. ¨More than the result, the content of competition was the most disappointing thing, many people said…¨.
So what was the factor that made him lose the final? He thinks he failed in the weight control. He had to lose 8 kg in order to meet his category weight of the competition (-58 kg), considering his normal weight is 65 kg. Normally the weight control is one of the training conditions that most of the athletes have to take care of during the preparation period, so he was strongly criticized for letting the weight control badly influence him in the final. People said he had enough time to get used to it before competing at the London Olympics. Why couldn’t he manage the weight control?
¨In several occasions before the Olympics, I tried to regulate the weight when participating in other competitions such as our national selection, etc… trying once in a short period and another in a long period. And I learnt that doing this weight adjustment in a short period put me in a better shape and better physical condition than a long period adjustment. I guess it was my biggest mistake, preparing an important competition as Olympics without having experienced before how I would find myself after a long term weight control.¨
Dae-Hoon Lee is very popular and famous Taekwondo athlete in Korea because of his good-looking appearance. But the fact that he touched his hair when he was losing in the final caused a very negative reaction within the Korean netizens, who left many vicious comments on the internet, saying things like ¨the one who has to be focused on the competition, maybe is paying too much attention to the media? ¨ What happened?
¨Actually I have my hair cut once a month… but I didn´t have a chance to do it while I was preparing myself for the London Olympics, so I had it long during the competition. It is true that I touched my hair because it was annoying me. I try to ignore that kind of comments because they don’t know the truth and the situation… but in this case it was impossible not to care about them as I was concerned… Anyway, I accept this unfairness as I gave a reason to be misunderstood.¨

Pen-Ek Karaket (THA) and Dae-Hoon Lee (KOR) during their combat at London 2012

If we analyze only the competition, leaving beside the problems you had with your weight and with your long hair, you were totally beaten in the final by Joel Gonzalez from Spain. What do you think about that?
¨When I was about to reverse I had to control myself and try to keep calm to wait the best moment… but I was in hurry to score to reverse… so in the end that’s what caused the big difference in points between us.¨
Somehow your short experience was revealed this time. Especially when it comes to your lack of experience against foreign athletes…What is your opinion on this?
¨Normally there are big differences between national and international competitions. For example, there are significant power and style difference between us. Also, when we face foreign athletes we receive more pressure. But as I said, I had a prior matter to London which was the weight problem… But it is true that I would had probably done better if I have had more more international experience.¨
What are the difference between Korean and foreign athletes?
¨It’s basically a timing difference… generally Korean athletes have a high basic level of Taekwondo that allows them to have a basic timing to attack and defend. But with foreign athletes it is not easy to have good timing to attack and defend because we ignore their timing to do so… sometimes I’ve faced some foreign athletes who attack only through big actions, which is a strategy that can be easily returned by a Korean opponent. In some occasions I lost opportunities to attack because of the timing difference.¨
Tazegul from Turkey won the -68kg category at London Olympics, and he is famous for his magnificent and powerful attack. Could we expect you to face him one day? You would have to raise your weight category.
¨I am still young, so I am still able to change to a higher category by getting more weight… in that case, it would be possible to meet him in the competitions… I would like to face him and beat him, as he is an internationally recognized fighter.¨
If you take part in the Puebla 2013 World Championship, which will be held this July in Mexico, it is possible that you face Joel Gonzalez again. Don’t you have intention to beat him by a big point difference?
¨In case I participate in Puebla, I think I’ll do in un a higher weight category, so we could fight if he changes his too. In this case, I would certainly like to beat him in a similar way as the one he beat me through in London, but I don’t think it is feasible since he’s not a mediocre athlete at all. The winner of the combat would be decided depending on the flows of the match.¨
Is there any other athlete that you were impressed with at London?
¨The match with Pen-Ek Karaket from Thailand was very hard. I had faced him twice before. In our first combat, I was losing in the beginning and I found it very hard to win. The same situation happened in our second confrontation… he is a veteran and difficult athlete to face. Alexey Denisenko from Russia was also impressive, he has an enormous power that none other athlete from his category is able to reach.¨

Dae-Hoon Lee, during the interview with WTM

Dae-hoon Lee has been highlighted since very small in the world of Taekwondo. He’s now one of the leader athletes of Korean Taekwondo team. What is your personal objective for this year?
¨My priority is to achieve a good result as an athlete. If I am selected for the Puebla 2013 World Championship, winning a gold medal will be my biggest objective for this year. Beside this, I also want to enjoy a great campus experience and have an excellent relationship with my colleagues… For further plans, I’ll have enough time to think about them later on.¨
Dae-hoon Lee is deemed as a treasure in the Korean Taekwondo, which still has a high level even though not many players are considered as stars. We will have to pay attention to his illimitable possibilities, as he is still very young… his Taekwondo career has just started!
Sung jin Park
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