SOUTH Korea’s Oh Jin-hyek sat back in his chair, looked at the Olympic archery gold medal around his neck, then took a long, slow swig from a chilled bottle of Coke – the “Soft Drink Pig” had never been happier.
The chunky Korean, saddled with the unflattering nickname due to his fondness for fizzy drinks, upstaged his younger team-mates at Lord’s cricket ground on Friday to end his country’s long wait for the men’s individual gold.
In his first Olympics, Jin-hyek also won bronze in the team event.
However, he does not have bragging rights over his girlfriend. Ki Bo-bae won the individual gold medal 24 hours earlier, and her team gold trumps his team bronze.
Jin-hyek had battled to force his way onto the mighty Korean archery team for a decade, trying out for every Olympic squad since the 2000 Sydney Games.
He made sure he savoured every moment of his time in London.
“When I was younger I imagined being a gold medallist at the Olympics,” the 30-year-old told reporters.
“But as time went by, my results weren’t good enough to make it to the Olympics.
“It was a long way to reach this moment. I wanted to have no regrets. I shot every arrow as if it were my last.”
Standing proud on the podium, hand over his heart and Korean anthem in his ears, Jin-hyek was surprised the emotion of the moment did not get to him.
“I expected to cry but now I am just overawed by all the attention that the media is giving me,” he said.
“I knew I could do it but I wasn’t completely sure. I felt like I was flying out there. It’s strange – I don’t feel like crying at this moment.”
Jin-hyek said he was looking forward to celebrating with his team-mates, and tempered reports he and Bo-bae were preparing to marry.
“It’s true that we have a very good relationship but we don’t any specific plans to get married,” he added.
“But when we return to Korea I sincerely hope our relationship continues and if we can get married, why not?”
Two Korean archers tying the knot would not be a first – gold medal winners Park Sung-hyun and Park Kyung-mo announced their engagement at the end of the Beijing Olympics. — Reuters