South Korea's roller skating team came up just short at the Asian Games after anchor Jung Cheol-won celebrated a second too early, allowing his Taiwanese opponent to catch him at the finish line.
The heartbreaking moment came during the homestretch of the men's 3,000-meter relay. As Jung made the final turn, he thought he had the race won, but an astounding run from Taiwan's Huang Yu-Lin put the two far closer than Jung was aware.
Jung lifted his arms in exaltation as he went to cross the line, but Huang stretched out his skate to the finish, besting the South Korean side by 0.01 seconds to win gold.
have watched this no less than 100 times— ok man (@sportsguy839303) October 4, 2023
South Korea skater celebrated early and lost out on gold to Chinese Taipei. Meaning his team does not become military exempt…
The epitome of brutality pic.twitter.com/xZgHAqtQSh
“I made a rather big mistake,” Jung said after the race, per Reuters. "I didn't come at full speed to the finish line. I let my guard down too early. I am very sorry."
It’s not the first time an athlete’s early celebration has cost them dearly—countless football players have let go of the ball before crossing the goal line for a touchdown, resulting in a similarly embarrassing mistake.
But for the South Korean team, there was more than a gold medal on the line in the race. South Korean athletes can earn exemptions from the country's mandatory military service by winning a gold medal at the Asian Games or any medal at the Olympics.
For Jung and his teammate Choi In-ho, that 0.01 second meant they wouldn't earn that exemption, at least this year.
Elsewhere at the Asian Games, a few South Korean athletes were able to win their way to a military exemption, most notably golfers Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim, both of whom are members of the PGA Tour. With amateurs Yu Bin Jang and Woo Young Cho filling out the team, the South Koreans won the team title by an impressive 25 strokes over second place Thailand.