South Korean officials vow to look into triathlete’s abuse claims

Sports Minister Park Yang-woo
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Updated 06 July 2020

South Korean officials vow to look into triathlete’s abuse claims

SEOUL: Top South Korean officials on Monday offered a public apology and vowed to delve into the death of a triathlete who had reported to government and sports bodies that she had been abused by her team coach, physical therapist and colleagues.

Choi Suk-hyeon, 22, was found dead late last month, after sending a mobile chat message asking her mother to disclose the alleged crimes of people who abused her. Public outrage later erupted after media revelations that authorities didn’t quickly act though Choi had registered petitions over the alleged abuses with several government and sports bodies.

On Monday, Sports Minister Park Yang-woo told a parliamentary committee meeting that he “feels heavy responsibility” for her death and apologized to her bereaved family and the South Korean public.

Vice Sports Minister Choi Yoon-hee told the same meeting that a 20-member investigation team was launched last week to find why authorities didn’t properly respond to the athlete’s petitions and whether related sports supervisory or support bodies functioned over the case in an appropriate manner.

“We will thoroughly investigate,” the vice minister said. “We’ll sternly punish those” responsible for Choi Suk-hyeon’s death.

During the parliament’s meeting, the team coach, identified by lawmakers as Kim Kyu-bong, and two athletes accused of abusing Choi said that they had never beaten or abused her.

Choi’s cause of death was ruled a suicide. State prosecutors are separately investigating the abuse allegations she made before her death, according to the Korean Sports & Olympic Committee.

Last week, the world’s triathlon’s governing body expressed its shock over Choi’s death and asked South Korea’s local triathlon federation and Olympic committee to share information about her case.

The alleged abuses happened when Choi belonged to a team run by the local government of Gyeongju city in the southeast.

Earlier Monday, two of her ex-teammates told reporters they and Choi had been beaten and suffered verbal and other abuses by their team’s coach, a physical therapist and senior teammates. One of them said she and Choi were once forced to eat 200,000 won ($167) worth of bread until dawn as a punishment for gaining weight.

The two women requested their names not be revealed, citing worries that media publicity would damage their private lives.

Choi, a junior bronze medalist at the 2015 Triathlon Asian Championships, was first picked in the national team in 2015, while still in high school. Her last major race was in October, when she finished the South Korean championship in 14th place.


Murray to the rescue as Nuggets hold of Lakers

Updated 23 September 2020

Murray to the rescue as Nuggets hold of Lakers

  • The 23-year-old Canadian’s three-pointer from 26 feet gave Denver a seven-point advantage at 106-99

ORLANDO: Jamal Murray scored 28 points as the Denver Nuggets held off a ferocious late fightback from the Los Angeles Lakers to roar back into contention in the Western Conference finals series on Tuesday.

Murray nailed two crucial late three-pointers in the closing minutes as Denver held on for a 114-106 victory in game three to reduce the Lakers’ lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

But the Nuggets — who looked in complete control for long periods of the contest — were given a mighty scare by the Lakers in a thrilling fourth quarter battle.

The Lakers had trailed by 20 points with just over 10 minutes remaining but whittled away the Denver lead to just three points with 3min 53sec left on the clock in Orlando.

But just as it looked as if LeBron James and Anthony Davis were poised to complete a remarkable comeback, Murray regrouped to take the game away from the Lakers.

The 23-year-old Canadian’s three-pointer from 26 feet gave Denver a seven-point advantage at 106-99 and he then provided the assist for Paul Millsap to make it 108-99.

With less than a minute on the clock, Murray struck the dagger blow with a 29-foot three-point jumpshot to make it 111-99 and effectively seal victory.

Denver coach Michael Malone said his team — who had suffered an agonizing buzzer-beater defeat in game two on Sunday — were determined not to go 3-0 down in the series.

The Nuggets have already overturned 3-1 series deficits en route to the Western Conference finals.

“I had no doubt we were going to show up tonight,” Malone said.

“We have won six straight elimination games. Everybody always has us packing our bags and leaving, but we’re not ready to go. They’re a very resilient group and they have proved that time and time again.”

Asked about his late flourish, Murray said he had set out to lead by example.

“That’s my whole energy, my whole approach to the game, not getting down if I miss a couple of shots,” Murray said.

“I’m just trying to be aggressive ... but the most important part is the energy I bring when I’m talking to my team-mates, being a vocal leader, getting up and down and pushing everybody so they tend to follow. I just wanted to see them have a lot of fun today.”

The Lakers, meanwhile, were left reflecting on an uneven display which ultimately left James and Davis with too much to do.

James led the scoring with a triple double comprised of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, with six turnovers. Davis had 27 points, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (12) and Kyle Kuzma (11) the only other Lakers players to crack double figures.

Murray, who also had 12 assists, was backed with 26 points from Jerami Grant while Nikola Jokic weighed in with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

“You put yourself in an 18-point hole, it’s tough to climb out of that,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

“I thought Denver played with great energy throughout the game. We didn’t match it early, we matched it late. They’re a great basketball team so credit it to them for the win. They played a really good basketball game.

“We were not as sharp as we could have been on both ends of the floor. We were playing at a high level, but were a little bit off in the first half.

“But I liked the spirit that the guys competed with down the stretch to try and make it a game.”