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.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam