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North Korean skater involved in tripping controversy at the Winter Olympics

Kwang Bom Jong of North Korea crashes out during the Men's Short Track Speed Skating 500m Heats. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
21st February, 2018
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North Korean skater Jong Kwang Bom has been slammed for bad sportsmanship after appearing to try and trip an opponent after crashing at the beginning of the men’s 500m short track.

16-year-old Jong slipped as soon as the men’s 500m short track event began, and in the process, threw out his arm to seemingly try and trip Japanese competitor Keita Watanabe.

Watanabe kept his balance, although officials restarted the race, believing there was significant interference.

Jong’s second attempt was not much better, as he collided with Watanabe and crashed into the wall. He was penalised, and his Olympic campaign came to an end.

The youngster appeared to be severely underprepared in an event which sees the world’s best skaters face off. Jong’s appeared to some as unsportsmanlike, however, his fellow competitors were quick to defend Jong.

Watanabe, the man who was perhaps impacted most by Jong’s actions described Jong’s landing as a reflex and his coach Jonathan Guilmette said it was an occurrence that “happens at least once at every World Cup event”.

Thomas Hong was unfortunately impacted heavily by Jong’s second crash. The American, however, was also sympathetic, placing some of the blame on himself. Hong said “It did affect me because I was just too close”. He added that “unpredictability and short track go hand-in-hand”.

Classy responses by fellow competitors who could be forgiven for being upset with Jong. The trip attempt has been described as a desperate plea to restart the race. If that was the case, it worked.

Unfortunately for Jong, it barely made a difference.

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