S. Korea takes aim at 3 gold medals in shooting at Asian Games

South Korea is targeting three gold medals in shooting at this year's Asian Games in China, with the host country and ascendant India likely offering the biggest challenge, the national team head coach said Tuesday.

"We won three gold medals at the last Asian Games in Jakarta, and our objective this time is to match that total," head coach Hong Seung-pyo said at the national team media day at Changwon International Shooting Range in the southeastern city of Changwon.

The Asian Games will begin in Hangzhou, China, on Sept. 23.

Hong said he expects Jeong You-jin to defend his gold medal in the men's 10-meter running target event. The coach is also counting on Song Jong-ho to win the men's 25m rapid fire pistol gold medal, which would be his second career gold after the rapid fire team event title in 2014.

Lee Eun-seo will compete in the women's 50m rifle 3 positions and 10m air rifle events, and Hong said Lee could win either of the gold medals.

There will be 33 gold medals up for grabs in Hangzhou, where the host country, China, will likely grab the majority of them.

At the 2018 Asian Games, China led all countries with 15 medals, including eight gold medals. South Korea was next with three gold medals and 12 medals overall.

It was a far cry from the 13 gold medals that South Korea won in 2010 and eight gold medals four years later as the host country.

In 2018, India emerged as a force with nine medals, including two gold medals, and Hong thinks India is no longer a pushover.

At this year's world championships held in August, China topped the medal race with 15 gold medals. India tied Ukraine for the second-most gold medals with six. South Korea, on the other hand, managed three silver and four bronze medals, without any gold.

"At the recent world championships, we could see that China and India were a step ahead of us," Hong acknowledged. "But our entire national team has been working really hard. We'll try our best to meet our target."

Hong said the pressure will be on Chinese shooters competing in front of a partisan crowd.

"Shooting is such a mental sport, and it's going to be difficult for Chinese shooters to shake off nerves in front of their home fans," Hong said. "Our shooters won't be as nervous."

Jeong, 39, will try to win a medal at his fifth consecutive Asian Games. In 2006, Jeong grabbed silver in the men's 10m running target team event. Four years later, he won bronze in the 10m running target and then won another bronze in the 10m running target mixed event in 2014. He finally won his first gold in 2018.

He will enter the 10m running target and the mixed competition in Hangzhou.

"I will go for gold medals in both events," Jeong said. "I don't mind competing with a little bit of pressure. I will try to stay within myself and not to get too greedy."

Song, 33, was a member of the gold medal-winning team in the 25m rapid fire event in 2014. He has gone through some rough patches in the intervening years. He came up short in the 2016 Olympic trials and missed the medal round at the 2018 Asian Games. At the Tokyo Olympics three years later, Song was disqualified in the preliminary stage because of faulty equipment.

"I think I've gone through everything you could as a shooter, and all of that has been a huge learning experience," Song said. "It's all in the past, and I am just grateful to keep getting these opportunities. I just want to make sure I finish my competitions, and then I think medals will follow naturally."

Lee, who will be making her Asian Games debut at age 29, said she can see herself standing on the top of the podium in the 50m rifle 3 positions event.

"I've not been doing anything differently. I've been feeling great lately, and I am trying to maintain that form," Lee said. "The goal is obviously to win the gold medal. I want to be able to execute everything I've practiced."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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