South Korean triathlete Choi Suk-Hyeon kills herself after coaching abuse: Reports

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Jul 02, 2020, 02.50 PM(IST)

South Korean triathlete Choi Suk-Hyeon kills herself after coaching abuse (Photo: Triathlon.org) Photograph:( Others )

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South Korean triathlete Choi Suk-Hyeon, took her own life after ending physical and verbal abuse from the coaching staff for years. Choi's complaints were also allegedly ignored by the sporting authorities.

South Korean triathlete Choi Suk-Hyeon, took her own life after ending physical and verbal abuse from the coaching staff for years. Her complaints were also allegedly ignored by the sporting authorities, as per reports. 

Choi, 22, who bagged a bronze in the junior women’s event at the 2015 Asian triathlon championships in Taipei, reportedly died in team dormitory in Busan in the month of June. As per the widely circulated screenshots of her final text message conversation with her mother, Choi begged her to “lay bare the sins” of her abusers.

In the highly-competitive society, winning means everything to the South Korean sports community and physical and verbal abuse have become normalcy. 

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Choi, who came fourth in the 2016 national championships elite women division, failed to fulfil her promise as she dropped to 14th in the same contest in 2019.

Once she wrote in her journal: "It was raining today and I was beaten so bad... I am shedding tears every day." 

A sentence from Choi’s journal is enough to send shivers down the spine. As per multiple reports in South Korean media, Choi compiled audio recordings of physical abuse she was subjected to by the coaching staff.

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As per one broadcast by the cable news station YTN, her coach was absolutely fuming after she put on some weight: "You have to avoid eating for three days," he said. "You promised me you would take responsibility." Then he told her: "Clench your teeth," followed by the sound of a sharp slap.

The reports say, team officials used to force her to eat $166 worth of bread as punishment for failing weight control and repeatedly beat her. 

Choi had put on a complaint to the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) in April seeking an investigation. However, as per Yonhap, “everyone ignored her pleas” even after she “sought help from many public institutions”.

KSOC denied the allegations by stating that it had assigned a female investigator after receiving Choi’s plea in April.  It promised to take "stern measures" against those involved, expressing "profound regret" over the incident and saying that prosecutors were now looking into the case.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for “thorough measures” to prevent such cases in future while saying it was a problem that Choi’s complaint didn’t receive a proper response.

In 2018, double Olympic gold medalist Shim Suk-Hee went public and accused her former coach of sexually molesting and physically abusing her multiple times. The coach was jailed for 10 months.

(With inputs from AFP)