Seo Jong-guk, 50, head coach of the Korean sports climbing team at the Hangzhou Asian Games, first took up climbing in his 20s. What started as a hobby turned into a career in sport climbing and ice climbing, and he even opened his own crag. He married fellow climbing student Jeon So-young, 50, and they had a daughter. The couple climbed mountain after mountain with their daughter, who was less than a year old, on their backs.메이저사이트
For her, mountains and rocks were a playground. She enjoyed climbing even when she first entered a competition in first grade and came in last place among her older siblings. She spent her vacations with her parents climbing overseas in the U.S. and Greece to further her dreams. That daughter is Seo Chae-hyun (20-Seoul City Hall), one of Korea’s leading sports climbing stars and a gold medal contender at the Asian Games.
We met the two at Seo Jong-guk Climbing, an indoor crag in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, on the 13th of this month. They are not only a coach and athlete, but also a father and daughter, a priest and a senior. Seo was appointed to the national team at the end of 2021. “I’ve always learned from my dad, so there’s no difference between being a national team coach and a player,” said Seo. “The hardest thing about being on the national team is that it’s awkward to call my dad coach.”
“I just wanted her to have a hobby that we could do together as a family, but I never forced her to do it,” he said. As Seo Chae-hyun decided to pursue a career as an athlete, Seo studied overseas resources to learn how to coach. She looked for training methods that incorporated weight training, exercises that prevented injuries, and diets that kept her healthy and made weight management less stressful.
Seo’s performance improved dramatically as she entered middle school. “When she was in the second grade, she started looking down at me,” Seo laughs. Thanks to her family’s extensive experience climbing natural rocks, Seo is said to have excellent footwork, finding the right place to step and making the most of it. Looking ahead to her peak in two to three years, Seo needs to improve her strength and lower body elasticity.
Sport climbing, which was first recognized at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, is divided into three disciplines: lead, bouldering, and speed. Endurance is key in lead competitions, where you have to climb a 15-meter wall as high as possible. Bouldering, which involves performing a variety of tasks, requires strength and quickness. Seo was so strong in lead that she was ranked No. 1 in the world in 2019 and won the lead gold medal at the 2021 World Championships, but at the Tokyo Olympics, her lead, bouldering, and speed results were combined, so she only finished eighth overall after qualifying first and finishing second in lead.
However, for the Hangzhou Asian Games, which begin on March 23, and next year’s Olympic Games in Paris, speed will be separated and only lead and bouldering results will be combined. The situation is more favorable for Seo Chae-hyun, who is the weakest in speed. After Tokyo, she increased her bouldering percentage to combine it with lead. Last winter, she also trained pull-ups with 40 kilograms of weight, about 80 percent of her body weight, to build the maximum strength needed for bouldering. Seo won a silver medal in bouldering at the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Cup in June. It was her first World Cup medal in bouldering after winning the lead World Cup medal.
Six gold medals are up for grabs in sport climbing at the Hangzhou Asian Games. “I expect Korean athletes to be on the medal podium in all disciplines,” Seo said. China and Indonesia are the main contenders in the men’s and women’s speed (Oct. 3) and speed relay (Oct. 4), and Japan in the bouldering and lead combined (Oct. 5-7). Seo, who is only competing in the combined, will have to beat Ai Mori (20-JP), who won gold in the lead and bronze in the combined at this year’s World Championships. They are the same age and have similar strengths in the lead.
“We’ve been international rivals since middle school, so we’re close, but I really want to beat her,” Seo said. “Before the Tokyo Olympics, I had never lost a competition, but after the Olympics, I’m a little nervous because I want to do well,” she said. “But once I’m on the wall, I can’t think of anything else.”