Friday, September 12, 2008

After tragedy, new and happy life for South Korean shooter Lee

Life is full of surprises, bad or good. Lee Ji-seok didn't anticipate a life-threatening accident to befall him, nor did he expect what would happen afterwards.

After the awarding ceremony at the Paralympic Games on Thursday, the South Korean shooter took off his gold medal and put it around the neck of his wife.

South Korean athlete Lee Ji-Seok poses for photos with his wife Park Kyoung-Sun after winnning in the Mixed R4-10m Air Rifle Standing SH2 final with a total of 704.3 in Beijing Paralympic Shooting event at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall Sept. 11, 2008. This is Lee's second gold medals in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Lee was seriously injured in a traffic accident in 2001. It was Park, a nurse then, who took good care of him during his rehabilitation and later encouraged him to train for shooting.
Throughout the final of mixed 10-meter air rifle standing SH2, Park Kyung-Sun was standing behind her husband and helping him with the loading before each shot, although she has been pregnant for six months.

SH2, in comparison to SH1, means that shooters have permanent disability in the upper limbs.

"When she helped me loading, it was the loveliest moment. I feel that my unborn child was there watching and cheering for me as well," said the reticent champion, the corners of his mouth lifted in happiness.

The 34-year-old Lee made his name at the Beijing Paralympics just two days ago, when he grabbed the gold medal of mixed 10-meter air rifle prone SH2 with a huge advantage.

In that event, he collected a staggering 600 points in the qualification, and led all the way in the final by hitting seven of the 10 shots 10.5 or more. His total score was 705.3 points.

"I will dedicate this medal to the child we are expecting," he said after the final.

The couple hugged and kissed in celebration, with the wife shedding happy tears.

This time, situation was just the similar.

His qualification score: 600.

His performance in the final: leading all the time, with five of the 10 shots above 10.5.

His total score: 704.3, equaling the Paralympic record.

"I feel lucky that so many people are supporting me. I don't know how to express my thanks."

To his wife, the champion said, "I give you my heart-felt gratitude."

Lee had been a taekwondo coach before he had a traffic accident in 2001.

His life was saved, but he can't walk anymore and his arms are stiff.

It had been a difficult time to become a disabled from an able-bodied person, which the man didn't want to recall too much.

"My parents, my brother and two sisters encouraged me a lot, and I can't let them down," he said.

But sometimes, misfortune could be a blessing in disguise, as was the famous case of American shooter Matthew Emmons, who blew an Olympic gold but found his love of life.

This is also true for Lee.

When he was in hospital after the accident, someone told him that a nurse insisted on meeting him.

"At first, I didn't like the idea of meeting a stranger," he said with a smile, casting a glimpse at Park, who was busy helping him with the urine test.

But later, he felt his decision was absolutely correct.

"She is a really kind-hearted person, the type that I like," he admitted.

Now Lee has a happy family that will be expanded in four months, and owns an online store selling ladies' clothes, with his wife being the model.

Similarly, shooting too is something that came to him as unexpected.

Since he could no longer practice taekwondo after being disabled, the energetic man was at a loss over what to do next.

In 2003, he met a shooting coach by chance.

"He was a successful coach who helped South Korea win its first Olympic shooting gold in 1992," he recalled.

Then the story was simple: the coach took him to several competitions, and Lee began to like the sport.

"It was very interesting," he hence started training.

In retrospect, Lee, who was too shy to talk much, said he cherished the moments of shooting.

"It brought me happiness, and I will continue," he said.

Source: Xinhua

No comments: