China / Sports

It's all in the family for South Korea's An

By Agence France Presse In Akron, Ohio (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-07 08:35

 It's all in the family for South Korea's An

From left: Henrik Stenson, An Byeong-hun and Matt Kuchar pose at a Monday media conference with the trophy won by Canada's George Lyon at the 1904 Olympics.Richard Heathcote/getty Images / AFP

Next summer's Olympics promise to be a family affair for South Korean golfer An Byeong-hun when the sport tees off in Rio de Janeiro after a 112-year absence.

The 23-year-old from Seoul is the son of Olympic table tennis medalists and is dreaming of adding gold to the silver and bronze medals already won by his parents.

"I wouldn't be here if there wasn't an Olympics," An said on Wednesday as he recounted the story of how romance blossomed between his parents during the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.

At the time, the relationship between An's father, doubles player Ahn Jae-yyung and Chinese women's singles star, Jiao Zhimin, was viewed as a sensation in South Korea media, where it was deemed "politically incorrect".

The couple met two years earlier at the 1986 Asian Games, and by the time Seoul rolled around "there was something going on between them", said An, who was born in 1991, three years to the day after the 1988 Olympics opening ceremony.

Given his family history, An is keen to add to his parents' medal collection.

"It will be great to play in an Olympics, especially because my parents played in them," An said.

"It would be nice to win gold - one better than them. When I heard golf was going to be in the Olympics I said 'OK let's try to make the Korean team'. It's great to represent a country."

Curiously, An revealed his parents have never shown him their medals from 1988.

"I've never seen them, only in pictures," he said. "I think I asked them once where they were and they said 'Not in the house, in a safe.' I'd love to get one for myself."

An was speaking on the eve of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational as the golf world marked the one-year countdown to the Olympics.

An spends most of the season on the European Tour, scoring a notable success in the BMW PGA Championship in May.

He also made history in 2009 by becoming the youngest winner of the US amateur championship at 17. He has yet to match his parents prowess at table tennis however.

"Not very good," An said when asked to describe his game. "That's why I'm playing golf."


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