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(Gwangju Swimming) Ex-Asiad gymnastics champion hopes to see diver daughter at Olympics

09:39 July 14, 2019

By Yoo Jee-ho

GWANGJU, July 14 (Yonhap) -- Back in his athletic days, former artistic gymnast Kwon Soon-seong accomplished many feats, including winning the gold medal in the men's parallel bars at the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul.

But there's one hole in Kwon's resume. He never did compete at an Olympic Games.

Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988, just two years after the Asian Games, and Kwon was sidelined with an injury he suffered just before the competition.

More than three decades later, Kwon can live vicariously through his daughter, Kwon Ha-lim, albeit in a different sport.

The junior Kwon is a diver.

South Korean diver Kwon Ha-lim (L) poses with her father, Kwon Soon-seong, the 1986 Asian Games gold medalist in the men's parallel bars in artistic gymnastics, during the FINA World Championships at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 13, 2019. (Yonhap)

The father took the girl to a local swimming pool when she was in third grade. But Ha-lim, who used to jump off her piano, took more interest in diving than in swimming. Her father set up a lesson with a diving instructor he'd known, and Ha-lim is now a fixture on the national diving team.

She made her FINA World Championship debut this weekend in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul. Kwon didn't come close to winning a medal -- she was eliminated in the preliminary in the 1m springboard and placed seventh in the mixed synchronized 10m platform -- but she still has a chance to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics through other events.

"It'd be great if my daughter makes it to Tokyo 2020. I don't think I'd be happier if I had qualified for the Olympics myself," the father said Saturday. "She has already participated in the Asian Games and the world championships. The time is ripe for her to challenge herself in the Olympics."

His daughter said having a former athlete as a father has more than its share of benefits.

South Korean diver Kwon Ha-lim performs during the preliminary of the women's 1m springboard at the FINA World Championships at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 12, 2019. (Yonhap)

"He was an accomplished athlete in his own sport," Ha-lim said. "Whenever I have questions about life as an athlete, I can always ask him."

Kwon Soon-seong isn't the type to push his child. He believes it's up to individual athletes to motivate themselves and take the next stop forward.

And he doesn't want Ha-lim to just focus on competitions and nothing else. The father wants the girl to gain some valuable life experience while taking part in international events.

"Looking back on my career, I think my experience of competing in many different international competitions enriched my life," he said. "I hope Ha-lim gets on a similar path."



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