South Korean sabre fencer Gu Bon-gil, who has many No. 1s under his belt, is on the verge of making sports history for his country.
He has made the top podium for the individual event three times at the Asian Games and earned three gold medals in the team event.
His career six gold medals helped Gu match Korea's five other sports athletes with the most Asian Games medals, including swimmer Park Tae-hwan and fencer Nam Hyun-hee.
At the Hangzhou Asiad, his fourth continental competition, Gu had been seeking to dig up the seventh medal by sweeping the individual and team events. But he lost to his teammate Oh Sang-uk in the individual final earlier this week and had to be satisfied with the record-tying sixth gold in the team event.
"After the individual match, Oh Sang-uk promised to bring gold in the team competition," Gu told reporters in a mixed-zone interview. "I'm grateful to him for keeping that promise and I want to thank Kim Jung-hwan and Kim Jun-ho for working hard with me."
With silver in the individual match, his plan to break the record for seventh career gold medal is pushed back to the next Asian Games in 2026 in Nagoya, Japan.
The 34-year old veteran fencer said he will not be satisfied with the record-tying performance and will go for the record breaker.
"I feel a bit sorry to the young fencers, but after winning gold today, I became more eager to win the most Asian Games gold," he said. "I'll keep working hard for Nagoya."
But it wasn't easy for him to achieve the feat at the Asian Games by continuing his upbeat momentum after defending the Olympic title at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago.
Ace fencer Oh, who had risen to be world No. 1 during the Olympic season, suffered an injury and dropped to 16th place in the run-up to the Asian Games. Gu placed 15th.
On top of that, the quartet had to overcome the mounting pressure for Asiad gold.
"Many people take it for granted that we win gold at the Asian Games. I felt more stressed before this Asiad than any other Olympics or world championships," said Kim Jung-hwan, who doubled as a coach for the team. "I'm delighted to conclude this competition with a happy ending."
Source: Yonhap News Agency