Court blocks South Korea speed skating champion’s Olympic bid: Report

SEOUL: South Korean speed skating star Shim Suk-hee’s Beijing Olympic hopes were dashed on Tuesday (Jan 18) as she lost a court battle over a two-month ban that will rule her out of the Winter Games, local media reported.

Shim is one of short track superpower South Korea’s most successful skaters, winning four Olympics short track medals, including relay golds at the 2014 and 2018 Games.

She was handed a two-month suspension by the Korea Skating Union (KSU) in December over expletive-laden texts about her teammates, leaving her participation at the Beijing Games hanging by a thread.

Shim, 24, sought a court injunction in the hope of overturning the ban but the Seoul Eastern District Court threw out her petition on Tuesday, Yonhap news agency reported.

The court agreed with the KSU that her messages “violated the national team’s code of conduct”, a KSU official told Yonhap after the verdict was announced.

Her texts, sent to her coach during the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, were first reported by local media in October.

In them, Shim suggested she could trip her teammate Choi Min-jeong if they competed in the same race at Pyeongchang.

The two did both end up racing in the women’s 1,000-metre final and got tangled in the final stretch, causing them to fall and crash into the wall.

Shim was disqualified and Choi placed fourth. Investigators concluded Shim had not intentionally sabotaged Choi, citing a lack of evidence.

Shim apologised for her “immature behaviour” when the text messages were first revealed.

South Korean sport has seen a number of cases of bullying, abuse and ill-discipline in recent years – especially in short track speed skating.

Shim is an assault survivor, with one of her coaches – not involved in the texting case – jailed last year for more than a decade for sexually assaulting her over several years.

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