“With this medal, my pain of feeling uncertainty from last year all disappeared,” said Lee Seung-hoon, who delivered the nation's first medal at the Vancouver Winter Games on Saturday, in an interview with the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
The 22-year old from Korea National Sport University took silver in the 5,000-meter speed skating event on Saturday, less than a year after failing to make the nation's short track Olympic squad.
Lee also became Asia's first-ever Olympic medalist in a long-distance skating category.
Yonhap News Agency said Lee silenced critics who derided his decision to switch from the short track event to the speed skating event after delivering the nation's first medal at the Vancouver Winter Games.
His achievement also came less than a year after failing to make the nation's short track Olympic squad.
“It was very difficult to withstand the skeptical glances questioning how I would change by converting to a different event," said Lee, in an interview with Yonhap.
Lee, who was first began skating as a hobby when he was 8 years old, had in fact been a rising star in the field of short track, most recently becoming a three-time champion at last year's Winter Universiade.
His dream of competing in the Olympics was put on hold in April of last year, however, after failing to enter the national team amid stiff competition from senior athletes.
Lee decided shortly thereafter to convert to the speed skating event. Having been brought up as a short track competitor, he had to learn from scratch.
The determined Lee overcame his novice handicap by winning in a national speed skating competition and being picked up by the national speed skating squad.
A quick learner, Lee went on to break the country's speed skating records at an International Skating Union World Cup competition.
The silver medal, Lee said, "single-handedly blew away" all the anguish and uncertainty that had haunted him since last year's conversion from short track to speed skating, Yonhap said. Source: koreantimesCongrats you deserved it. Now let's hope Kyu Hyuk Lee, Kang Seok Lee & Mo Tae-bum will sweep up some medals at the 500 and 1000m