“Olympic Games, five world championships, four Asian Games…today is my first medal”
South Korea’s men’s 400-meter relay team tied the national record and won bronze in the final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games. It was a moment that ended a 37-year absence of a medal in the men’s 400-meter relay at the Asian Games.
The South Korean men’s sprint relay team clocked 38.74 seconds in the final of the men’s 400-meter relay on Wednesday at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Main Stadium in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. First place went to China with a time of 38.29, and second place went to Japan with a time of 38.44.
Lee Jung-tae (Anyang City Hall) was followed by Kim Kook-young (Gwangju Metropolitan Government), Lee Jae-sung (Korea Gymnastics University), and Ko Seung-hwan (Gwangju Metropolitan Government).
The time equaled the Korean record (38.74) set by Oh Kyung-soo, Cho Kyu-won, Kim Kook-young and Yeo Joshua in 2014. South Korea’s only other medal in the men’s 400-meter relay at an Asian Games was a third-place finish in Seoul in 1986.
An emotional Kim Kook-young said after the race, “This is my 16th year running for the national team. I’m not a good athlete, I’m a lucky athlete,” he said, adding, “I’ve competed in the Olympics, five world championships, and four Asian Games. I have a lot of international experience, but this is my first medal.”
Kim has been a part of the Asian Games team since Guangzhou 2010, and after competing in Incheon 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang 2018, he finally saw the fruits of his labor in the form of an Asian Games medal.
“We prepared really hard,” Kim said. The four of us were the four best athletes in Korea,” said Kim, “and as a result, we won our first medal in 37 years. I think it’s just the beginning.”
“I don’t know if I will continue or retire, but I hope that with this bronze medal today, I will continue to win medals in the 400-meter relay at every Asian Games,” he said. “If the juniors always have the idea that they can do it, that they can win (medals) in individual events, I think we will definitely win a medal at the 2026 Asian Games in Aichi and Nagoya, beating the home team Japan.”
“I think I was a little bit sad because it’s my last Asian Games, and it’s my first medal,” said an emotional Kim Kook-young, adding, “It’s the first time I’ve seen the Korean flag flying in a stadium, so it’s really nice.”
After passing the baton to Kim Kook-young, Lee Jung-tae said, “I hope Kook-young doesn’t retire. “It would have been difficult to win a medal without him,” he said, adding, “He has competed in many Asian Games and shared his know-how, experience, and confidence with me. I would like to play with him one more time.”
Lee Jae-sung, who handed over the baton to Kim Kook-young in the match, said, “I didn’t know that Kook-young would wave the flag in the stadium 토토 with my brother. I only dreamed about it, but now that it’s here, I’m speechless with happiness.”
The final runner, Ko Seung-hwan, described Kim as “someone who has so much experience that the younger guys can learn a lot from him.”
On not breaking the Korean record, Kim said, “I think I should appeal. I think it was actually 38.73 seconds,” he said with a laugh.
“Honestly, I personally came to see the gold medal today,” Lee said, “I wanted to win the gold medal and give my good energy to (Woo) Sang-hyuk so that we could win a joint gold medal.”
Woo will go for gold in the men’s high jump final on Thursday.