Korean ‘Iron Man’ Yun Sung-bin wins historic first Olympic skeleton gold for Asia
With his distinctive helmet, the 23-year-old dominated his rivals to slide to his country’s second gold of the Games
South Korea’s Yun Sung-bin made history on Friday as he became Asia’s first Olympic skeleton champion after dominating the daredevil event at the Pyeongchang Games.
Roared on by the home crowd at the start of the Lunar New Year, the 23-year-old pulverised the opposition to win his country’s second gold medal of the Games – with plenty to spare.
Yun clocked a combined time of three minutes, 20.55 seconds for his four runs, with Nikita Tregubov, an Olympic Athlete From Russia, taking silver.
Dom Parson’s celebrated with gusto after winning Britain’s first skeleton medal in 70 years. But the day belonged to Yun, who slides in an Iron Man helmet with glowing eyes that make him look like a superhero as he rockets around the course.
“It has been my dream to win the gold medal since I started off in skeleton,” the South Korean said after triumphing by a record margin of 1.63 seconds. “But this is just the beginning for me.”
Yun sank to his knees as he soaked up the adulation of the crowd, thanking them for their raucous support as they chanted his name.
“I was a little worried about racing on the morning of the Lunar New Year,” added the former world silver medallist. “It’s a national holiday so I thought not many people would come to support. But so many people came to watch and I know many more watched on TV.
“That support really helped push me to win the gold medal.”
Before these Games, only nine different countries had won medals in skeleton, where athletes throw themselves down an icy chute on their bellies headfirst.
Typically, the likes of the United States, Austria, Canada, Germany and Switzerland have dominated the sport but Yun upset the established order with his breathtaking speed.
“It feels unbelievable to win Olympic gold,” said Yun. “It’s a great honour.”
Tregubov said the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to formally ban Russia from the Games over state-sponsored doping at Sochi 2014 had been a distraction.
“Naturally there were some difficulties and it was tougher because some of our athletes were not allowed to participate,” the Russian said. “It disturbed me a little but I still didn’t expect such a brilliant result. Even now I almost don’t believe I did it.”
The 23-year-old from Siberia credited six years in the army cadets for his steely determination.
He is among the 168 Russians granted a place in Pyeongchang by the IOC after being deemed drug-free.
“You have to rise at a regular time, you have to go to lessons at a regular time,” he said of his army life. “If you are late, you have to clean the streets for example, so I’m used to being disciplined.”
Parsons, who finished just two hundredths off silver, was nevertheless ecstatic after claiming Britain’s first medal of the Games.
“I don’t know, it hasn’t really sunk in yet – I thought I’d lost it after that fourth run,” he said after a mistake from Latvia’s Martins Dukurs kept him in the medals.
“It’s incredible, four years of work has gone into this. But Yun absolutely smashed it.”