Swimmer set to be first North Korean competitor at the Paralympic Games

 

A 17-year-old swimmer is set to become North Korea's first ever competitor at the Paralympic Games.

Rim Ju Song, from Pyongyang, took part in a qualification event in Berlin at the weekend, and has been awarded a wildcard by the International Paralympic Committee to compete at the games in London in August.

Mr Ju Song will be the only North Korean competitor at the games, in any sport, and his entry is has been hailed as a diplomatic triumph after the British Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, stepped in to assist the swimmer in his quest to make the games.

Mr Ju Song's coach, Jin Cheng Zhe, told The Independnet the British Embassy had “provided financial support.” “They paid for us to travel to Berlin for the swimming competition. He is now finally able to swim in London.”

Mr Ju Song does not speak any English but his coach said he was “very happy, very pleased, and very excited” to be taking part in the games.

A British Embassy spokesperson said they had been trying for some time to help get North Korean competitors into the games, but a lack of experience and funds has been a significant obstacle, in a country where disabled sport has virtually no profile.

Mr Ju Song's lost his left arm and left leg, and suffered significant injuries to his right leg and foot in an accident on a construction site when he was five years old.

He will now compete in the S6 category in freestyle swimming, and the SB5 category in breast stroke.

Mr Ju Song and his coach have now returned home, via Beijing. “Before the London Games he has to do intensive training,” Mr Cheng Zhe said. “We are looking at the possiblity of training in Pyongyang or in China.”

“Of course we are not expecting too much because he's pretty young, and he hasn't had time for very much training yet.”

Several North Korean athletes have qualified for the Olympics, including the women's football team, who will play France, Colombia and the USA. The country has three competitors, two women and a man in the 10 metre platform diving compeittion, and ten table tennis players. At the Beijing Games, Pak Hyon Suk won gold in the women's 63kg weightlifting class, and Hong un Jong won gold in the women's vault. The country's Olympic commission has not confirmed which athletes, if any, it will be sending to these competitions this time round.

The country's new leader Kim Jong Un, son of Kim Jong Il, who died last year, is unlikely to be one of the 120 world dignitaries and heads of state expected to attend the opening ceremony, but reports earlier this year indicate he has offered some assistance, touring a bullet factory and shooting range to offer guidance as to how his country's sporting marksmen could become more successful.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Manchester United's kit for the 2014/15 season
football
News
Nadine Gordimer died peacefully at home yesterday
peopleNobel laureate was a powerful anti-Apartheid voice
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor