‘Back-to-back medalist’ Lee Ju-ho “I can still do it in my late 20s”

Lee Ju-ho (28-Seogwipo City Hall), who touched the 50-meter return point in fourth place, went all out in the final 50 meters.

Overtaking third-placed Wang Guikailai (20-China) to move into medal contention, Lee put pressure on Ryosuke Irie (33-Japan), whom he has admired on numerous occasions.

Unfortunately, he was unable to overcome Irie.

However, it was a significant achievement for Lee, who became only the second South Korean men’s backstroker to win back-to-back medals at the Asian Games.

Lee finished third in the men’s 100-meter backstroke final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games in 53.54 seconds on Thursday at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Pool in Hangzhou, China.

After winning bronze in 54.52 at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games, Lee won the same color medal at the Asian Games.

The ‘best backstroker in Asia’ Xu Zhai (26-China) won in a meet record time of 52.23. The runner-up, Yi Lie, clocked 53.46.

Coincidentally, five years ago, the first, second, and third place finishers in this event were Xu, Li, and Lee.

“It was great to be able to compete with the Chinese and Japanese powerhouses,” said Lee after the race. “Five years ago in Jakarta-Palembang, the three of us won gold, silver, and bronze medals side by side, so it’s strange to be on the podium together again.

There was some disappointment.

Lee failed to break his own Korean record (53.32).

Even with his best time, Lee would have been able to beat Irie for the silver medal.

“Irie is an athlete I really admire,” Lee reflected, “and I tried to surpass her this time, but unfortunately I couldn’t.”

However, he is proud to have become only the second Korean man to reach the podium in the 200-meter backstroke at back-to-back Asian Games, after Lee Sang-joon, who won back-to-back gold medals in the event (Beijing 1990 and Hiroshima 1994).

“I wasn’t aware of that record,” said Lee, “and now that I’ve achieved something meaningful, I hope to get good results in the remaining events (50m-200m backstroke) at the Games.”

“In Jakarta-Palembang, I finished fifth in the 200-meter backstroke, so I will try to win a medal in this event,” he said, expressing his desire to win two medals in a single event.

The men’s 200-meter backstroke will be held on Sept. 29.

Lee has long been one of South Korea’s top men’s backstrokers.

“Many people say that a swimmer’s performance declines after their mid-20s, but I disagree,” he said, “I trained hard, scolding myself, and I still believe I can do better.”

Five years ago at Jakarta-Palembang, Lee’s time was 54.52. In Hangzhou, Lee touched the touchpad 0.98 seconds faster than five years ago.

Irie, whom Lee admires, is also a top-ranked Asian athlete in her 30s. 스포츠토토

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