Canadian Crockett aims to keep Korea on top

Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:34am EDT
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By Peter Rutherford

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's rise to the top of the speed skating world has been built on flawless technique and unparalleled work ethic, says coach Kevin Crockett, and it is his job to keep them there.

Canadian Crockett, who won speed skating bronze at the 1998 Nagano Games and has been coaching South Korea since August last year, told Reuters on Wednesday his skaters were in great shape with 100 days to the start of the Sochi Games.

South Korea won three gold and two silver medals to top the speed skating standings in Vancouver, a stunning performance considering their only previous medals were a bronze four years earlier in Turin and a silver in Albertville in 1992.

Crockett, who changed his name from Overland to honor his grandfather, said the foundation for that recent success was pure dedication.

"I think one of their main strengths is their work ethic, they work harder than anybody else I have ever seen," he said at Korea's national training centre in northeastern Seoul.

"They tend not to fold under pressure, which is another big one. They love to race ... and technically they're probably the best skaters in the world, I'd say. Hands down."

While there have been reports that Korea's sports coaching style can be overly authoritarian, Crockett said those suggestions were wide of the mark.

"From the outside looking in you might think that but there's a really good relationship between the coaches and the athletes," he said.   Continued...

South Korea's speed skating coach Kevin Crockett watches a training session at Taereung National Training Center in Seoul October 30, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji