Volleyball star to take it one match at a time at Tokyo Olympics

SEOUL-- South Korean volleyball icon Kim Yeon-koung will be competing at her third Olympics in Tokyo starting later this month, and at age 33, Kim may well be taking her final shot at Olympic glory.

But she is trying not to look too far down the road. South Korea's run at the women's volleyball tournament could end as early as the quarterfinals on Aug. 4, but Kim's focus for the time being is solely on the first preliminary match against Brazil on July 25.

"I am not going to talk about trying to win a medal here today," Kim told reporters at the Olympic Park in Seoul, after attending the launching ceremony for the South Korean delegation for the July 23-Aug. 8 Olympics. "We'll just do our best one match at a time. If we can keep building on that, then we'll continue to move deeper into the tournament, to the quarterfinals and beyond."

Kim's closest shot at a medal came at the 2012 London Olympics, where South Korea lost to Japan in the bronze medal match.

South Korea will be in a dogfight just to get to the quarters. The country has been paired in Pool A with Japan, Serbia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Kenya.

South Korea is the second-lowest ranked team in that group at No. 14, ahead only of the 24th-ranked Kenya. Brazil (No. 3), Japan (No. 5), the Dominican Republic (No. 6) and Serbia (No. 13) have probably circled the Korean match as the winnable one.

The top four teams will move on to the quarterfinals, up against the top four from Pool B.

On paper, this year's South Korean team isn't as talented as the 2012 squad. The depth took a particular beating in February, when Lee Jae-yeong and Lee Da-yeong, the twin sisters who had played integral roles during the qualifying stage, were cut from the national team while facing bullying allegations from their school days.

Kim declined to field questions about the Lee sisters, who were Kim's teammates on the South Korean V-League team Heungkuk Life Pink Spiders this past season. Asked whether the compromised roster situation has been a rallying cry for the rest of the team, Kim said, "We've been doing the best we can under the circumstances."

Kim has been selected as one of two flag bearers for South Korea at the opening ceremony, along with swimmer Hwang Sun-woo. Kim will also serve as the captain for all South Korean female athletes in Tokyo.

"It's a huge honor to be the flag bearer and captain, and I'll try to set the right example for our delegation," Kim said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency