South Korea’s roller-skating team lost its opportunity for another gold medal, and an exemption from the country’s mandatory military service, at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, after one of its members celebrated too early before reaching the finish line.
What happened: Jung Cheol-won, 27, of South Korea lost to Taiwan’s Huang Yu-Lin in the men’s 3,000-meter relay roller skating competition at the 19th Asian Games on Monday, resulting in South Korea only receiving a silver medal in the event.
A fraction of a second: Jung and his teammates, Choi In-ho and Choi Gwang-ho, lost to Huang and his team, Chao Tsu-cheng and Chen Yan-cheng, by 0.01 seconds. South Korea finished the relay at 4:05.702, while Taiwan’s Huang crossed the finish line with a time of 4:05.692.
Video clips of the race show Huang extending his left foot as both roller skaters inch towards the finish line.
Admitting fault: Speaking to news outlets after the race held at the Qiantang Roller Sports Center, Jung admitted to costing South Korea a gold medal at the 19th Asian Games.
“I just made a huge mistake,” he said. “I am really sorry to my teammates and to fans who were cheering us on.”
He also noted that he told his teammates how he let his “guard down too early and didn’t finish” his race, adding, “We all worked very hard together for this, and it’s all my fault.”
The early celebration was especially costly since the loss means Jung and teammate Choi In-ho missed out on
an exemption from South Korea’s compulsory 18-month military service for all able-bodied men by the age of 28. Those who win a gold medal at the Asian Games or an Olympic medal can receive an exemption from the required military service.
However, Choi still has an opportunity to qualify for the exemption at the 2026 Asian Games in Aichi and Nagoya, Japan, since South Korean law allows men who achieve exceptional success in art, sports and higher education to defer their service until age 30.
It was redemption for Huang: Taiwan’s Monday win in the relay was a redemption for Huang, who was disqualified in the men’s 1,000-meter sprint on Sunday. He told reporters that he felt discouraged to compete at the Asian Games following his prior defeat.