While the Korean Equestrian Federation is sticking to its “at least 100 million won self-funding” condition for the Hangzhou Asian Games, top athletes in equestrian disciplines have confirmed that they have applied.
According to Yonhap News Agency, more athletes than the nine on the original roster have expressed their intention to participate in the Asian Games by the end of the day, including those who finished first in their respective categories at the selection trials.
Nam Dong-heon (Gwangju Metropolitan Equestrian Association) won first place in dressage, Lim Sung-no (Gyeongsangbuk-do Equestrian Association) in show jumping and Park Soo-il (Gyeonggi-do Equestrian Association) in eventing in April last year.
The deadline for submitting letters of intent to participate in the Asian Games was set for the 19th, but the federations extended it to the 25th after consulting with the Korean Olympic Committee.
Unlike Lim Sung-no and Park Soo-il, Nam Dong-heon, who did not apply on the 19th, submitted his letter of intent to compete in the Asian Games on a “self-funded basis.
He told Yonhap on the 26th, “I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to compete at all if the situation changed in the future because I didn’t apply this time. I can only apply and wait,” he said.
He added, “It’s even more unfair if I get into trouble later because of a piece of paper. There’s a myth that all equestrians are rich, but that’s not the case. I’m also an office worker, so I can’t pay 100 million won right away.”
Kim Hyuk (Gyeongsangnam-do Equestrian Association), last year’s gold medalist in dressage at the national championships and the second-place finisher behind Nam Dong-heon in the selection round, also expressed his intention to compete, unlike last week.
“I had no choice because it was impossible to compete if I didn’t apply,” he said, adding, “It doesn’t mean that I completely agree with the federation’s decision.”
After becoming the first high school rider to win a dressage gold medal at the 2013 National Championships, Kim missed the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and settled for bronze at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games.
In preparation for the Hangzhou Asian Games, Kim Hyuk did not compete for six months, from the selection round in April last year to the national championships in October. He wanted to save his words.
“100 million won is not a small amount of money,” he said, “I’ve been waiting for this competition for five years and I couldn’t give up.” “We need support from the association, the Korean Sports Federation and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism,” he added.
Park Soo-il, who was the only rider to qualify for the Asian Games with the FEI’s minimum entry level (MER) in dressage, also said, “How many people can afford 100 million won, but an athlete must strive for their goals, and I can’t give up just because the situation is difficult.”
The association held a board meeting on the 15th and decided that athletes who pay at least 100 million won for expenses such as horse transportation will be included in the Asian Games roster.
The federation explained that the cost of the horses had risen to 1.3 billion won ($1.3 million), more than double the cost of the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games, as the Asian Games organizers outsourced the horses’ air transportation to a German agency and were forced to use a route between Europe and Hangzhou.안전놀이터
Amid a backlash from athletes, the federation says it has no other option in the face of financial difficulties.
Chairman Park Seo-young released a hand-drawn cartoon on social media on Nov. 21, saying, “I’m sorry to have to make this decision,” adding, “The athletes are the dream and future of Korean equestrianism, but the federation can’t even support the reality.”
After confirming the athletes’ final intentions, the federation will hold a performance improvement committee to finalize the roster by the end of the month.