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01 February 2022, 15:44

Speed skating medal hopeful pleased with ice condition after 1st practice in Beijing


BEIJING, 1 February (BelTA -Yonhap News). - After his first on-ice training in Beijing on Tuesday ahead of his second Winter Olympics, South Korean speed skater Kim Min-seok left the arena feeling great about himself.

The ice surface at the National Speed Skating Oval in the Chinese capital reminded Kim of his Olympic debut from four years ago.

Back then at Gangneung Oval during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Kim grabbed silver in the men's team pursuit and bronze in the men's 1,500m as an upstart teenager. Now 22, feeling stronger than ever physically, Kim is confident he can grab multiple medals once again.

"I love the ice here. It felt quite similar to the one in Gangneung four years ago," Kim told reporters after his training session. "I left the ice with a lot of confidence in myself."

His first race, 1,500m, is next Tuesday, followed by the team pursuit on Feb. 13. Kim said it is difficult to make any technical improvement over a period of one week, and his focus will be on maintaining his form and preparing to peak at the right time.

Kim's recent form has been very solid. He was the only South Korean speed skater to win a medal during this past International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup season. He was the 1,500m champion in the first leg and then added a bronze in the same distance at the following event. He finished seventh in the 1,500m World Cup standings.

Whereas Kim came out of nowhere to capture his two medals in 2018, he won't catch anyone by surprise if he reaches the podium this time. He said he isn't paying much attention to pre-Olympic hype.

"I am grateful for people's interest and support, and that doesn't put any pressure on me at all," Kim said. "I am only thinking about rewarding fans with some great results.

Kim said he has "definitely improved" over the past four years since his first Olympics. In particular, he has packed more muscle to his 177-centimeter, 71-kilogram frame.

"I didn't used to lift weights, but I've been doing weight training for two years now," he said. "I have become stronger and improved my endurance. That has helped me add some speed early in the race and sustain that in late stages."

Kim said he'd like to win a medal in all races that he enters but also noted that the quality of competition has increased in recent years.

"I shouldn't be too greedy. I'd be happy with just one medal," Kim said. "I shouldn't put too much pressure on myself."

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