Judo gold medalist to lead Korea Racing Authority team

By Baek Byung-yeul
Kim Jae-bum / Korea Times file

Former Olympic judo champion Kim Jae-bum, 32, will lead the Korea Racing Authority’s (KRA) judo team, the company said Thursday.

The KRA, a state-run company established to manage the country’s racehorse breeding industry, has been running a judo team since 1994.

Kim, who claimed a gold medal in the men’s under 81 kilogram judo competition at the 2012 London Olympics, was on the KRA team but retired from the sport last May after failing to make the national team for the 2016 Rio Olympics due to injuries.

During his career, Kim has claimed gold medals at the Olympics, the world championships in 2010 and 2011, the Asian championships five times and the Asian Games in 2010 and 2014. Kim became the second Korean judoka to accomplish judo’s equivalent of a grand slam following Lee Won-hee in the men’s 73 kilogram category.

“We decided to hire Kim as a coach of our judo team recognizing his contribution to Korea’s judo scene and his knowledge and passion as a sports leader,” the team said in a statement.

Kim said he will train athletes on the KRA team to the level where they are capable of winning medals at the upcoming 2018 Jakarta Asian Games. “I will share my experience and passion with the younger judokas,” Kim said.

“I will also act as mediator between the head coach and athletes on the team and try my best to restore the team’s reputation.”

Besides appointing Kim as a new coach, the team is adding athletes Kim Sung-min, who competed in the men’s +100 kilogram category at the Rio Olympics, and Kim Jae-yun, who won a bronze medal at the Grand Prix in Dusseldorf last year. Both are from the recently disbanded Yangju city government judo team.

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