Wrestling icon Kim Hyun-woo announces retirement from national team

South Korean wrestling sensation Kim Hyun-woo (35, Samsung Life Insurance), who impressed fans at the London 2012 Summer Olympics by winning gold with a black eye, has hung up his flag.

“I’m retiring from the national team,” Kim said in a phone call to Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday, adding, “I won’t be participating in the national team’s first round of selection.”

He added, “I’ll be out of the national team, but I plan to play a little longer and think about my future career.”

“I’m not feeling well,” he said, adding that he discussed his decision with his family after the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games and decided not to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me,” said Kim, “I will never forget the support of the Korean people. I would like to ask for your continued interest in Korean wrestling.”

Kim Hyun-woo was the poster boy for Korean wrestling at the London Olympics, where he won gold in the men’s Greco-Roman 66-kilogram category overcoming a right eye injury.

While South Korean wrestling has been on a downward spiral due to problems at the grassroots level, Hyun-woo has kept the country’s pride alive by performing well at every international competition.

He led South Korean wrestling to gold at the 2013 World Championships, gold at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, and bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

However, Kim was not able to overcome the weight of time. A series of bad lucks also caught up with him.

He initially planned to retire at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but was unable to fulfill his plans after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) just days before the qualifying quarterfinals.

He postponed his retirement until the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou and returned to training, but suffered a rib injury just before the start of the Games and missed out on a medal.

Meanwhile, Kim Hyun-woo’s close friend Ryu Hansu (35-Samsung Life Insurance), a 67-kilogram men’s Greco-Roman champion, has decided to stay in the sport until the Paris Olympics.

He has applied to compete in the first selection trials for the 2024 national team, which will be held in Taebaek, Gangwon Province, on Nov. 13.

Ryu will compete in the second round of selection, and if he wears the Taeguk mark, he will be able to qualify for the Paris Olympics through the Olympic Quarterfinals. 파워볼

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