Sport | Other Sports

Asiad records first death

A wet and dismal second day of the eventing competition was blighted by the tragic death of South Korea's Kim Hyung-chil, who was crushed by his horse.

  • By Sarah Tregoning, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 23:35 May 3, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Reuters
  • South Korea's Kim Hyung-chil was a veteran of four Asian games and a silver medallist at the last event in Busan.
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Doha: A wet and dismal second day of the eventing competition was blighted by the tragic death of one of the athletes on Thursday.

South Korea's Kim Hyung-chil died after being crushed by his horse in a bad fall during the Asian Games equestrian competition.

It was the first death of a competitor in the 55-year history of the Asian Games.

The experienced Hyung-chil, 47, was competing in the cross country element of the three-day event in atrocious conditions, when his horse, Bundaberg Black, came to grief at the eighth fence and rolled over him.

The Korean, who leaves behind a wife and a son, 7, and daughter, 13, had won a silver at the Asian Games in Busan four years ago on the same horse.

Medical staff rushed to his aid when the accident happened at around 9am, but could not find a pulse. Hyung-chil was taken to hospital but pronounced dead at 10.50am. His mount, Bundeburg Black, is under observation but doesn't appear to be hurt.

Chung Hyun-sook, Korea's chef-de-mission, had the difficult task of addressing a news conference.

"I'm in charge of making sure all the athletes get back home safely. I feel like I am totally responsible for this tragic event," she said. "My heart is broken."

Kim was the oldest and one of the most experienced riders in South Korea.

Organisers suspended the 32-rider event, which was being staged on a 2,470 metre course containing 23 fences, until later in the afternoon. When the competition resumed, a minute's silence was held in driving rain at the eventing venue.

South Korean Olympic officials said bad course conditions due to heavy rain and horse fatigue from the event's tight schedule may have contributed to the accident.

Officials from the International Equestrian Federation said the accident was being investigated but refused to comment on what might have caused the horse to miss the jump.

The first rider on the course after the tragedy was the UAE's Abdullah Al Shuaibi on Marquis d'Argouges. Despite the rainy, boggy conditions, he rode a safe clear round.

After his round, a mud-splattered Al Shuaibi said: "It was worrying. My trainers were worried for me because they thought it could happen to me because you don't know when you are going to die. But I had to do it.

"I talked to Kim before he was due to go out. He said his horse was quite strong so the accident must have been a misunderstanding between horse and rider."

Gulf News