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Hyun-chil killed in equestrian tragedy

December 08, 2006 15:14 IST

South Korean athletes stood in shocked silence on Thursday as the Asian Games mourned veteran eventer Kim Hyun-chil's tragic death.

On a day when the rains poured down on the Qatari capital, Kim suffered fatal skull fractures after being crushed by his mount Bundaberg Black in a fall at Doha's Racing and Equestrian Club.

Medics were quickly on the scene but could not revive the 47-year-old. He was pronounced dead at 10:50 a.m. (0750 GMT) at a local hospital.

Reaction within Korea's sporting community was one of profound sadness and disbelief.

Chung Hyun-sook, Korea's chef-de-mission, looked to have the weight of the world on her shoulders as she conveyed her feelings at a news conference.

"I'm in charge of making sure all the athletes get back home safely. I feel like I am totally responsible for this tragic event," she said.

"My heart is broken."

Venues across Doha held a minute's silence in memory of Kim, who had ridden the same horse to a proud silver on home soil at the 2002 Asian Games in Pusan.

Kim's former team mates were equally distraught.

"I feel empty, numb inside. Really shocking," said snooker player Park Seung-chil when Reuters broke the news to him.

"After my game I'll have to go back to the athletes village to see what happened."

Table tennis player Ryu Seung-min summed up the mood of the camp.

"All the Korean team are a little bit low, everyone's faces are downcast. There's been some tears."

SPORTING MEDAL

South Korea's Yonhap News reported Kim had called his wife just a few days ago to say he would do his best to win gold and make his seven-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter proud.

Representatives of his family are due in Doha on Friday to discuss funeral arrangements.

Kim Jung-kil, Korea's Olympic Committee (KOC) president, said the Seoul government had agreed Kim should be buried in the National Cemetery. He would also posthumously receive the country's sporting medal.

"Korea's athletes and team, despite the accident, will be doing their best in the other events so that they can live up to the expectations of all Koreans," said the KOC chief.

"Kim Hyun-chil would have wanted this."

The KOC president also vowed to find out whether the atrocious weather or any mismanagement of the competition had played a part in the accident.

"We thought that the (equestrian) schedule was rather tight and that led to fatigue among the horses," he said.

"Due to the rain, the horse mistimed his jump and slipped."

Source:
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