Members of the women’s South Korean speed skating team publicly threw their teammate under the bus after her poor performance cost them a chance during the quarterfinals of the Team Pursuit Speed Skating at the Winter Games in PyeongChang.
Chemistry was evidently absent between Ji Woo Park, Seon-Yeong Noh, and Bo-Reum Kim, the South Korean trio participating in the speed skating team pursuit competition at the PyeongChang Olympics.
In a sport that calls for collective effort, Kim Bo-Reum and Park Ji-Woo skated ahead of their teammate, leaving her to bite the dust (or ice). The unusual antics pushed the South Koreans into seventh place and caused them to miss the chance to qualify for a medal.
Seon-Yeong dramatically broke down in tears after the team’s last-place finish, and assistant coach Bob de Jong was the only one to comfort her as she wept on the side of the rink.
Not content with blasting her on the ice, her teammates went on to criticise her on TV.
“We were skating well,” Kim Bo-Reum said before smugly adding, “but the last skater couldn’t keep up and we had a disappointing score.”
Park Ji-Woo also expressed her anger at the result: “It wasn’t that we didn’t think this would happen with Seon-Yeong,” she said.
The South Korean public didn’t take this lack of camaraderie very well. Fans filed a petition with South Korea’s presidential office to kick Park and Kim out of the Olympic team, according to the Korea Herald.
The online petition raked in more than 200,000 signatures within a single day, prompting South Korea’s head coach Baek Cheol-Gi to call for a press conference. Only Kim joined him at the microphone, apologising for the team’s hostility.
“I apologise to those who have been affected by what I said during the TV interview yesterday,” said a visibly affected Kim.
Seon-Yeong Noh, who crossed the finish line almost four seconds behind her teammates, had a hard time preparing for the Winter Games. In late January, she almost missed her spot in the team due to a registration mix-up with the South Korean skating union.
She was able to register at the last minute thanks to the absence of Russian athletes at the women’s 1,500m race.