Korea 73kg player article

Neat article on Lee Won-Hee, current World Champ at 73kgs and Olympic team-member. Discusses his training, winning streak, loss to Jimmy Pedro at Korea Open, etc.


[Athens Olympics] Judo's Golden Boy Lee Won-hee Ready to Fight
By Kim Hyun-cheol
Staff Reporter


Lee is not only an Olympic team member but one of the favorites for gold in the -73 kilogram class. Emerging from almost out of nowhere, Lee has made a series of bold statements over the past year while wearing the colors of the national team.

Starting from the Paris Open in January 2003, he has achieved an unprecedented record of 48 straight wins with eight titles, including the World Championships and Universiade, before finally being defeated by Jimmy Pedro of the United States in the Korean Open final in December. Incredibly, 43 of the 48 wins were by Ippon _ earning him the nickname 'Mr. Ippon.'

``Time has flown with lightning speed this past year, tournament after tournament, but no doubt I've had the time of my life,'' Lee reminisced, but also showing some concern for what lies ahead. ``It looks like all the media are saying that the gold medal is already mine. The expectations are often burdensome but I feel lucky with it as well. It is not just for anyone, at least.''


(more excerpts)

Lee says winning the world title in Japan is the pinnacle of his career so far, while the Korea Open offered a lesson. Not only did the defeat end his spectacular run but the American had only recently come out of retirement.

``It felt quite sour when I was defeated by Pedro last December in extra time,'' Lee confessed. ``But again, I take it as an opportunity for me to improve. I could learn I'm a loser the moment I begin to become complacent.''

Most judo fans might expect Lee to be building kind of rivalry with the veteran judoka from the United States for the upcoming Olympics. But he stops such talk short when asked who his biggest contenders are at Athens.

``All participants are my contenders on an equal basis,'' he said. ``Judo is a 'momentary' art _ I can throw anyone with the right skill and the right timing and vice versa. I study all the players I meet in competition. Any one of them can beat me if I'm not well prepared for them.''


That guy is a freak. I've never seen such a dominant performance as the one he put on at the worlds (ok, maybe Inoue). That one-handed Tai-Otoshi he did in the finals was...well....just rediculous

Thanks for the article. Interesting and very well-written. Though I find it funny that you have to "escape" from the training center at night, that's what you call training!