Olympic champion cut from Korean team amid tripping probe
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Two-time Olympic champion Shim Suk-hee has been cut from South Korea’s short track speedskating team after a reported text message exchange that suggested she may have intentionally tripped a teammate during the 2018 Winter Games.
The Korea Staking Union on Wednesday said it’s preparing to launch an investigation and had barred the 24-year-old Shim from competing in the International Skating Union short track World Cup series beginning next week.
The Seoul-based Dispatch online news outlet last week revealed what it described as text messages exchanged between Shim and her coach during the last Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
In the messages, Shim reportedly insulted teammates Choi Min-jeong and Kim A-lang and discussed making Choi a “female Steven Bradbury.”
Bradbury likely refers to an Australian short track skater who won the 1,000-meter final in the 2002 Winter Olympics after every other skater in the final fell over. But what exactly Shim and her coach meant in the messages wasn't clear — Bradbury won the gold medal.
After the messages were exchanged, Shim and Choi did take each other out amid a desperate late charge in the 1,000-meter race. Shim was later disqualified and Choi ranked fourth.
Shim on Monday issued a statement via her agency apologizing to Choi, Kim and all others who must have been disappointed and hurt by “my immature attitude, words and behaviors.” She still argued in the statement she didn’t deliberately trip Choi, according to local media.
Shim’s agency on Wednesday couldn’t immediately share the statement with The Associated Press.
Choi’s agency said in a statement Wednesday it has asked the skating association and the Korean Olympic committee to delve into the case. The All That Sports agency said Choi is "anxious due to fears” about training or attending future competitions together with Shim.
Choi and Shim are both prominent South Korean short trackers. Shim won Olympic gold medals in the 3,000-meter relay in 2014 and 2018. Choi won gold medals in the 3,000-meter relay and the 1,500-meter race at Pyeongchang.
Shim made headlines after the 2018 Olympics when she she accused another former coach of rape.
Amid a growing #MeToo movement in South Korea, Shim's case encouraged other female athletes to speak up about the alleged abuse they suffered from their coaches.
The former coach was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.
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