By Ian Ransom
HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – South Korean roller-skater Jung Cheol-won was left red-faced at the Asian Games on Monday when an early celebration cost his team a gold medal in the 3,000 metres relay race.
The 27-year-old eased up and raised his arms as he approached the finish, only to be pipped by Taiwan’s Huang Yu-Lin on the line.
Taiwan won the gold by 0.01 seconds.
“I made a rather big mistake,” said Jung. “I didn’t come at full speed to the finish line. I let my guard down too early. I am very sorry.”
It was redemption for Huang, though, who left the venue in tears on Sunday after being disqualified in the men’s 1,000m sprint.
He had earlier told reporters he was not sure he would compete in Monday’s relay because he was so downcast.
“Last night, I kept telling myself I was not willing to compete today but then I looked back at some old posts on social media to encourage myself,” he said.
He initially thought Taiwan had fallen just short on Sunday.
“I thought it was such a shame that I was just a little bit short, and then the results came up on the screen showing that we had won by one hundredth of a second, and it was just a miracle.”
The silver medal came with an added sting for Jung and one of his team mates, Choi In-ho.
South Korea’s Asian Games champions enjoy the added bonus of being able to skip what is normally mandatory military service.
All able-bodied South Korean men aged between 18 and 28 must serve 18 months to two years in the military as part of the country’s efforts to guard against North Korea.
Taiwan also took gold in the women’s 3,000m relay race on Monday, ahead of runners-up South Korea.(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Clare Fallon)