Apolo Ohno

Remembering South Korea’s ‘Ohno celebration’ at 2002 World Cup

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One of the most memorable intersections of the World Cup and the Olympics occurred in 2002, when South Korea and Japan hosted the world’s biggest soccer tournament four months after the U.S. hosted the Winter Games.

In that World Cup, the U.S. and South Korea played a group-stage match to a 1-1 tie in the South Korean city of Daegu (which would hold the 2011 World Track and Field Championships).

The equalizer in that match came from South Korean substitute Ahn Jung-Hwan, whose header beat U.S. goalie Brad Friedel in the 78th minute (video here).

Ahn sprinted toward a corner after scoring, amid a cauldron of cheers from some 60,000 South Koreans, and broke into a unique celebration.

He came to a stop, leaned forward and made overt striding motions with his arms and legs. The meaning behind it wasn’t immediately apparent to ESPN commentators Jack Edwards and Ty Keough — Edwards referred to Ahn’s gesture 10 minutes after the goal on the broadcast — but had to be to any ardent fan of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Ahn was throwing shade at U.S. short track speed skater Apolo Ohno (then better known as Apolo Anton Ohno).

In the 2002 Olympics, Ohno won his first career gold medal in the 1500m final despite not crossing the finish line first. South Korean Kim Dong-Sung beat Ohno but was disqualified for cross-tracking, a fate he learned while carrying a South Korean flag in a victory celebration.

source: Getty Images
Ahn’s teammates joined the celebration after his 78th-minute goal. (Getty Images)

Kim memorably slammed the flag onto the ice. The controversial decision apparently lingered in South Korea through the spring and into the first World Cup hosted in Asia. Some reports from a decade ago:

* During the Winter Olympics, the U.S. Olympic Committee received so much hate mail in the hours after the DQ that its computer system crashed. (New York Times)

* Ohno said he received death threats.

* A Seoul newspaper dubbed him “the most hated athlete in South Korea.” (Ohno’s autobiography)

* Ohno skipped a short track World Cup stop in South Korea in 2003. When he later returned for a competition in South Korea, he was accompanied by 100 police officers in riot gear at the airport. (NYT)

* Ohno’s reaction was to laugh it off, saying Ahn needed to work on his technique. It was “unfortunate that they’re lingering on something that wasn’t even my decision,” he told the Seattle Times. (AP)

* The U.S. team, which made an inspiring run to the quarterfinals, was unaware what Ahn’s celebration meant. “Is that what he was doing?” said Landon Donovan, who was 20 and playing in his first World Cup. “It’s kind of a joke. Why do you have to do that? It has no relevance to this game.” (AP)

* “We knew that our people still have some grudge against the United States for the skating incident, so we wanted to allay that with the goal ceremony,” Ahn told reporters after the game.

Photos: Apolo Ohno completes Ironman 70.3 Boise

Usain Bolt would have considered 2020 Olympics if he lost medal before Rio

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If Usain Bolt had lost his 2008 Olympic relay medal before the Rio Games, instead of last month, maybe he would have considered trying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“Maybe if it had come before the Olympics, maybe it would have taken away a little from me, and then I would have thought about [2020],” Bolt said in a CNN interview published Monday of dropping from nine Olympic golds to eight due to teammate Nesta Carter‘s doping, “but the fact that I got the chance to say, ‘the triple-triple,’ kind of made me feel good.”

In Rio, Bolt completed his “triple-triple” at his final Olympics, sweeping the 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles at a third straight Games. Bolt raced with the knowledge that Carter had failed retests of 2008 Olympic samples but had yet to receive any punishment.

Five months later, the triple-triple was no more.

On Jan. 25, the IOC announced teammate Nesta Carter was retroactively disqualified from the Beijing Games. Carter was on Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team in Beijing, so the entire team was stripped of medals, including Bolt.

Carter is appealing his punishment.

Carter also joined Bolt on gold-medal-winning 4x100m relays at the 2012 Olympics and the world championships in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Carter was not disqualified from those meets like he was the 2008 Beijing Games.

Bolt said he had no fear or worry about the possibility of having to return more relay gold medals.

“Even if I lose all my relay gold medals, for me, I did what I had to do, my personal goals,” Bolt said in the CNN interview that appeared to take place two weeks ago in Monaco. “That’s what counts.”

Bolt also said he had not spoken to Carter since the ruling was handed down.

“My friends have asked me what I’m going to say [to Carter], but I don’t know,” Bolt said, repeating that he had no hard feelings toward Carter.

Bolt’s next scheduled meet is the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston on June 10, but he could (and likely will given his past) sign up for another race between now and then.

MORE: Bolt meets Michael Phelps, predicts when 100m world record will fall

Lindsey Vonn among Olympic medalists in documentary about gender in sports

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Olympic medalists Lindsey VonnHilary Knight and Ann Meyers-Drysdale will feature in TOMBOY, an hourlong, multi-platform documentary project aiming to elevate the conversation about gender in sports.

TOMBOY, which will premiere in March, is told through the voices of many of the world’s most prominent female athletes, broadcasters and sports executives.

It will air across all NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBCSN and select NBC-owned TV stations (check local listings). Clips can be found here. More information can be found here.

In an interview clip, Vonn discusses a challenge unique to her sport — fear.

“In my sport, you can’t be afraid,” said the 2010 Olympic downhill champion, who continues to come back from high-speed crashes and major injuries. “Ski racing is an incredibly dangerous sport. It definitely would not be safe if you were afraid of going 90 miles per hour.”

Knight, a two-time Olympic silver medalist, said that at age 5 one of her grandmothers told her that girls don’t play hockey.

“Since age 5, I’ve been working toward an Olympic dream,” said Knight, the MVP of the last two world championships. “Fifteen years later, I ended up at my first Olympic Games.”

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VIDEO: Vonn crashes out of World Cup super-G