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[SPORTS] Hyo Jung (Halie Kim) - Olympian Short-Track Speed Skater

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  • madchinaman
    Hyo Jung Stays on Track for U.S. HELENE ELLIOTT http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-olycol8mar08,1,1826971.story To her friends at the U.S. Olympic Training
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 10, 2005
      Hyo Jung Stays on Track for U.S.
      HELENE ELLIOTT
      http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-olycol8mar08,1,1826971.story


      To her friends at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado
      Springs, she's Halie Kim. By any name, short-track speedskater Hyo
      Jung Kim is an impressive talent who's on target to earn
      international acclaim at the Turin Olympics.

      Kim, 16, won each of her 11 races last week at the U.S. short-track
      championships en route to the overall title and a place on the U.S.
      team at the World Championships, which begin Friday in Beijing. A 5-
      foot-6, 122-pound dynamo with uncanny power and control, she has
      overcome the hazards of a perilous sport — and the pain of a chronic
      shin injury — to join the world's elite.

      Born in Seoul, she began speedskating "because I was very sick when
      I was younger and my parents want to make me strong."

      Her parents are Korean, but her father, Kim Soo Hong, became a U.S.
      citizen while he worked in California. The family moved back to
      South Korea to further her father's career with the multinational
      construction firm AMEC, whose projects have included rebuilding the
      World Trade Center and the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 terrorist
      attacks. As a result, she speaks little English. Through her
      father's citizenship, however, she had U.S. citizenship at birth.

      After deciding to skate for the U.S. in the 2003 world junior
      championships, she moved to the Olympic training center in January
      2004. A cousin, Teddy Ko of Fullerton, a high school teacher in
      Paramount, keeps an eye on her. Other extended family members live
      in Tustin and La Mirada.

      "I never really thought of being a Korea team member. I always
      thought my training would be to be a U.S. team member," she said
      with translation help from Ko. "I miss my parents, but I like it
      here in Colorado Springs. At first it was very hard to study
      English, but my roommate [Cherise Wilkins] and everybody helps me
      study."

      If she's as quick a study off the ice as on, she has nothing to
      fear. She ranked seventh on the World Cup circuit this season and
      was unstoppable at the U.S. championships in Milwaukee.

      "I'm very pleased with my performance, despite the fact I was
      worried about my physical well-being," she said, referring to the
      shin injury that kept her off the ice for a month early this
      season. "My times were better than I expected.

      "Because of my injuries, I was a little apprehensive, but I did
      better than I expected."

      Given to shy smiles and giggles, she collects keepsake key chains
      from her travels and enjoys being treated like a little sister by
      teammates Allison Baver, Apolo Anton Ohno and Rusty Smith of Sunset
      Beach.

      "Rusty helps me get my blades nice and straight and clean," she
      said, "and everyone pitches in."

      She's excited about the prospect of competing at the Turin Winter
      Games, less than a year away, but she knows nothing is certain in a
      fast-paced sport where disqualifications are common and often
      controversial.

      "Every meet anywhere is difficult," she said. "However, I do feel
      confident."

      If she wins a medal, she wants to be in the record books as Hyo
      Jung, to honor her heritage. But, most important, she wants to help
      the sport reach the level of popularity here that it enjoys in
      countries such as South Korea.

      "Right now, basketball, baseball and football are the sports in this
      country," she said. "I hope someday the sport will grow. It is
      growing and hopefully I will be a part of that."

      Baker's in a New Pool

      Besides a new title and team to coach, nothing is different from Guy
      Baker's perspective.

      "My job hasn't really changed," said Baker, who switched from
      coaching the U.S. women's national water polo team to coaching the
      men's team. He will make his men's coaching debut Friday at the Four
      Nations tournament in Hamm, Germany.

      "The whole idea is to help develop the sport," he said. "The
      potential for USA Water Polo can be unlimited."

      Baker, who led the women to a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics
      and bronze at Athens, took the men's job in January, a month after
      the resignation of hard-driving Ratko Rudic.

      A few weeks later, Baker assumed the additional duties of director
      of high performance for USA Water Polo, which entails coordinating
      the men's and women's programs and national teams. His wife,
      Michelle Pickering-Baker, was appointed the national team director
      of operations after spending six years as the team manager.

      Under Rudic, the men's team finished sixth at Sydney and seventh at
      Athens. With Baker, the U.S. women won the 2003 world championship,
      gold at the Pan Am Games and the two Olympic medals. Finalists to
      succeed him are Newport Harbor High Coach Bill Barnett, North
      Hollywood Harvard-Westlake Coach Rich Corso, men's junior national
      team Coach Doug Peabody, and Heather Moody, captain of the 2004
      women's Olympic team. The selection is expected to be announced next
      week.

      Leaving the women's team "was real difficult," Baker
      said. "Agonizing. And probably still a little painful. But I'm
      excited about how we're going to restructure [USA Water Polo].

      "I needed to get my hands around the men's program. The women's
      program is going to be strong for a long, long time. I feel
      comfortable that the women's program has everything in place for
      long-term success. The men's program needs work, organization-wise
      and administrative-wise. It's easier for me to be involved this way."

      With most U.S. mainstays playing in Europe, Baker this week has only
      two players with senior national team experience — goalkeeper Genai
      Kerr and attacker Spencer Dornin. But that gives him a chance to
      look at goalkeeper Chay Lapin of Long Beach Wilson High, center
      forward JW Krumpholz of Foothill High, and defender Shea Buckner of
      Villa Park. If they play well, they could return for a qualifying
      tournament next month in Mexico that will determine if the U.S.
      advances to the World Championships in Montreal this summer.

      "Talent-wise, I think we'll do a good job," Baker said. "We'll have
      a nice nucleus returning…. These players will be put in a position
      where we'll see what they can do."
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