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WHEELCHAIR RACING’S YOO BYUNG-HOON “PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES SHOULD CHOOSE TO LIVE AS MARATHONERS”

The veteran racer who has been protecting the Taeguk Mark for more than 20 years was still disappointed .Both personally and for his juniors .So he declared another challenge. “You can’t choose your disability, but you can choose your life after disability,” said wheelchair racer Yoo Byung-hoon (T53-Gyeongbuk Disability Sports Federation) at the Hangzhou 2022 Para Asia Games, “and I will focus on my life as a wheelchair marathoner.”

Yoo, born in 1972, has competed in six consecutive Para Asian Games, from the 2002 Busan Para Games to this one. He is also a Paralympic and World Championships medalist. “I want to finish my national team career with good memories, good memories and good experiences, and I will not compete in the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games,” said Yoo on Wednesday at the Korean Athletes’ Village in Hangzhou, China, adding that he will return his flag and choose a life as a marathoner.

His last words, “It was hard to let go,” showed that he had been thinking long and hard. “I want to win gold again, but my realistic goal is silver,” said Yoo, who has won seven silver and five bronze medals at the Asian Games. “I’m going to go out on the road after this competition.” “I feel less nervous, more relaxed, and really …I love this sport and I’m glad I came this far that kind of satisfaction,” said Yoo, who paused for a moment to catch his breath before encouraging his juniors to gain confidence and prepare for the next competition in detail.

Yoo also encouraged people with disabilities to participate in sports, saying that he himself was reborn through exercise.” I used to be a timid and quiet person,” he confessed, “but when I started exercising, my personality changed and my attitude towards life changed 180 degrees.” “When you achieve your goals through exercise, you feel joy and confidence, and your social interest grows,” he said, adding, “I’m proud to see juniors become confident through exercise.”

He emphasized the benefits of exercise by saying, “If you work hard, you can live a better life after retiring as an athlete,” and that “exercise has the power to change your life after a disability.”Yoo recommended sports that are particularly demanding and dynamic. “The younger generation doesn’t like hard sports and tends to do sports that are comfortable,” he said. “I would like them to try a lot of athletics that require strong training and steady efforts to become good, and once they reach a certain level, they can run for a long time.”

“When I went to foreign competitions, I was envious of the younger athletes,” said Yoo Byung-hoon, who frankly admitted, “I’m not always happy to play for the national team even when I’m over 40.”While much has improved in Para sports over the past 30 years, Yoo said, “there is still a 2% gap.” “In the past, I was grateful for the public’s interest, even if I felt uncomfortable with the excessive praise for Para medalists,” Yoo said, urging the public to look at Para athletes and non-disabled athletes the same way.

“The national team uniforms for able-bodied and disabled athletes are the same, and the past stories of the star athletes are not excessively revealed,” he said, adding, “There is no difference between them.”” There are still many things that need to change, such as more broadcasts and coverage, and more sponsors for medalists with disabilities,” Yoo said. While running track, Yoo consistently competed in marathons .Marathons became his third life.

“The six major marathons in the world – Boston, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Berlin, and London – have separate wheelchair sections,” Yoo said, noting that wheelchair marathons are severely lacking in Korea .”It’s an environment where wheelchair users can’t choose whether to run a short distance or a marathon,” he said. “We want to open a path for wheelchair users to find a sport they want to run and challenge themselves.”Yoo has been competing in wheelchair marathons in Korea and has done quite well, and even competed in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Marathon.

“When I was younger, I was afraid of wheelchair marathons, but when I actually tried it, I realized that it was worth it,” he said, adding, “I will live my life as a new athlete as a wheelchair marathoner. “Currently, there are very few athletes in Korea who can compete in international wheelchair marathons. After more than 20 years on the track and leading wheelchair racing from the front, the old man is waiting for another shot at the starting line for a wider 토토 space and a wider world.

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