DAD PLAYS LUGE, SON PLAYS NATIONAL ICE HOCKEY RICH MAN CHASING OLYMPIC DREAM

“The Olympics? It’s an elusive dream. Haha. “There is a ‘father and son’ who will play active roles as sports administrators and athletes, respectively, at the 2024 Gangwon Winter Youth Olympics, which opens on the 19th.The main characters are Lee Gyeong-yeong (42), secretary general of the Korea Luge Competition Federation, who will serve as vice chairman of the luge competition committee, and his son Lee Dong-geun (14, Kwangwoon Middle School 2), goalie for the youth ice hockey team .Secretary-General Lee is living proof of Korean luge, which has created ’emotional drama’ at every Olympics even in harsh environments. He became involved with luge while working as an intern at the German headquarters of the International Luge Federation in 2013, and in 2014, he was appointed as an external cooperation officer for the Korea Luge Federation, contributing to preparations for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

It was Secretary-General Lee who spearheaded the naturalization project of Eileen Frische (retired) from Germany, who is credited with raising the level of Korean women’s luge to the next level.After the Pyeongchang Olympics, he served as Secretary General and oversaw the administration of the Korea Luge Sports Federation. While preparing for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and the 2026 Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Olympics, I was tasked with managing the luge competition at the Gangwon Winter Youth Olympics.Originally, Secretary General Lee was an ‘ice hockey person.’He grew up as an elite ice hockey player at Jung-dong High School and Hanyang University, but retired early due to an injury suffered at the 2003 Tarvisio Winter Universiade, unable to compete on the professional stage.

Although he was likely to be frustrated, he pioneered the ‘second act’ of his sports career based on the unique aggressiveness and perseverance of ice hockey players.After completing my military service as an officer, I studied abroad in the United States for two years and improved my English skills.I was fortunate to be able to apply for several talent development programs as the bid for the Pyeongchang Games had just begun.I participated in the Sports Talent Development Foundation’s overseas training program for retired athletes, and also had the opportunity to work at the International Luge Federation as part of the winter sports internship program.

Although I am steadily expanding my scope as a luge administrator, I remain disappointed that I did not take on more challenges as an ice hockey player.In an interview with Yonhap News on the 14th, he laughed and said, “Since Korea is not in the top division (first division) anyway, I think I could only imagine participating in the World Championships or the Olympics.”Whether now or during Secretary General Lee’s active years, it is close to impossible for Korean ice hockey to compete at the Olympics.Secretary-General Lee still regrets not being able to do more to challenge the ‘impossible dream.’That’s why I’m even more proud of my son who is challenging the Olympic stage where he couldn’t stand.My son’s position as goalkeeper is the most painful position, as he has to use his whole body to block pucks flying at speeds exceeding 160 kilometers per hour, so I feel sorry for him.Secretary Lee is a former defender, so he knows very well how difficult the position of goalkeeper is.

He laughed and said, “When I was in the first grade of elementary school, I clearly remember my child saying that he was going to play goalie and saying, ‘The joy of making a block is greater than the joy of making a goal.’” The reason that the adult national team participated in the finals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games and that the youth national team participated in this tournament is because Korea is the host country.Korea will face strong teams such as Canada and Finland one after another in the group stage of this tournament.Canada and Finland are powerhouses ranked first and second in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) world rankings based on adult national teams.Korea ranks 21st.This may be the last time Lee Dong-geun wears the Taegeuk flag against Canada or Finland.

Still, Lee Dong-geun will continue to beat the rink toward his ‘elusive dream’ like his father during his days as a player.Secretary-General Lee is also striding toward the now seemingly impossible dream of one day having Korean luge win an Olympic medal.The luge competition at the Gangwon Winter Youth Olympic Games ends on the 23rd.Then, on the 27th and 28th, the Korean ice hockey team will play a group stage match.Secretary-General Lee plans to immediately go to Gangneung, where the ice hockey game is held, after the luge schedule is over, and cheer on his beloved son.Secretary-General Lee said, “I hope that my son will overcome the competition for the final starting spot at the Jincheon National Training Center and do his best to perform well on the Olympic stage, 슬롯게이밍 where he may not be able to return.”

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