Shin Jea-hwan, the men’s vault gold champion whose gymnastics career almost came to an end after a back injury, became the second South Korean gymnast ever to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
Getting the gold: Shin, 23, made his Olympic debut and scored 14.783 points on average after two vaults in the final on Aug. 2, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
- He was tied with Russia’s Denis Abliazin but won under the tiebreaker rules, which states that the gymnast with the highest score before the average is calculated is the winner.
- Shin honored the 2012 Olympic vault champion, Yang Hak-seon, and credited his gold to his fellow gymnast. Yang also gave Shin “the most practical piece of advice” and told Shin to trust himself, reported the Yonhap News Agency.
- “I’d like to tell him that I won my gold medal here all thanks to him,” Shin said. “Hak-seon singlehandedly raised the level of vault in South Korea. We got better and better because we’ve been trying to reach the bar he set.”
- Shin said that the win “still hasn’t hit yet” and was “relieved” after landing his second vault. He also “wanted to take positive energy” from the women’s South Korean gymnast Yeo Seo-jeong so they “bumped fists.”
His injury: The gymnast survived a serious back injury during high school that almost ended his gymnastics career.
- While he did not want to talk about the injury, he reportedly received surgery for a disc problem that required putting a permanent metal pin in his back and he went through strenuous rehab in order to compete again.
- “The thought of quitting gymnastics due to the injury was the most difficult part. I concentrated on positive thoughts in order to overcome that moment,” said Shin.
- Shin’s mentor and Vice Chairman of the Korea Gymnastics Association Han Chung-shik noted that Shin was “commendable” due to the fact that he was able to “overcome his injury and ultimately survive the traumatic experience.”
Featured Image via NBC Sports