High jumper Choi Jin-woo (18, Ulsan Sports Science High School) won the gold medal in the high jump final of the 104th Jeonnam National Sports Games (National Games) at Mokpo Stadium in Jeonnam, South Korea, on Saturday, clearing 2.10 meters.
To some extent, it was a foregone conclusion.
Choi Jin-woo is a highly touted prospect who is expected to follow in the footsteps of world-class jumper Woo Sang-hyuk (Yongin City Hall).
In the final, the gap between Choi and the jumpers behind him was huge. Second-place finisher Yoon Jun-ho (Gwangju Chego) was 15 centimeters shy of 1.95.
However, Choi was far from satisfied with his victory.
His mark of 2.10 meters was below the 2.13 meters he cleared at last year’s national championships.
Choi was aiming for 2.25 meters, a Korean high school record that hasn’t been broken since Choi Hyun-wook in 1988, including Woo Sang-hyuk. However, he failed to clear 2.20 meters all three times, and his winning mark of 2.10 meters was his first.
“I wanted to go over 2.20 and then challenge for 2.26, but I was disappointed,” he said.
As for Choi’s performance this season, it’s hard to say that he has improved.
After winning the U18 Asian Championships last year with a clearance of 2.21 meters, Choi finished second at the U20 Asian Championships this year with a clearance of 2.20 meters.
At the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, her first, she made the final at 2.15, and then repeated her performance in the final to finish 10th.
He hasn’t been able to move beyond 2.20 for a while.
“It’s true that I didn’t perform as well as last year due to frequent injuries and poor physical condition. This year was a tough year for me,” he said, “I think I went through (the slump) early. Now that I’ve experienced it once, I think I’ll be able to get out of it faster next time.”
Record-breaking athletes have to fight a lonely battle with themselves. Choi Jin-woo is even lonelier because he can’t find any rivals among his peers.
“I often feel lonely because there is no bonding between athletes like in team sports, but I think that loneliness is what drives me to excel,” he says.
That’s why he appreciates the fans who come to the track and field stadiums.
On this day, before the third round of the 2.20 meters, Choi clapped his hands to get the crowd to respond. Although it didn’t work, he did perform “fan service” by posing for the camera and the crowd.
“I feel a sense of pleasure when I go over the bar as one with the crowd,” Choi said, “I think high jump is a sport that communicates with the audience.”
“If the Asian Games was a stage where I saw and learned a lot from ‘world-class’ athletes, the Korean crowd at the National Championships made me want to challenge myself even more (to reach new heights),” he said. 스포츠토토