Fri, Dec 08, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Asian Games: Tragedy strikes as rider dies in Doha

ACCIDENT South Korea's Kim Hyung-chil, a silver medalist in the 2002 Asian Games, was crushed by his horse. His compatriots are now considering to pull out of the equestrian event

AP , DOHA

South Korean rider Kim Hyung-chil competes on his horse Bundaberg Black before a fatal fall during the individual cross-country equestrian competition at the Asian Games in Doha. Bundaberg Black hit a fence and stumbled, tossing Kim from the saddle. The Seoul resident, 47, never regained consciousness.

PHOTO: AFP

South Korean eventer Kim Hyung-chil died after falling from his horse during the equestrian competition on a slippery course yesterday at the Asian Games, becoming the first athlete to die in competition in the games' history.

Kim, 47, fell from his horse on jump No. 8 on the cross country stage of the three-day eventing competition and was taken to the hospital, Asian Games organizing committee spokesman Ahmed Abdulla al-Khulaifi said. Kim was pronounced dead soon after arrival at the hospital.

"I'm very sorry this tragic accident occurred," said Chung Hyung-sook, South Korea's team leader. "I feel totally responsible and my heart is broken."

Chung said South Korea was considering withdrawing from the equestrian event out of respect to Kim. All competitors observed a moment of silence yesterday shortly after Kim's death.

Kim, a silver medalist at home in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, fell from his horse, which tumbled on top of him, causing severe trauma to his head, neck and upper chest, according to Abduluahab al-Museh, of the organizing committee's doping and medical staff. He said efforts to resuscitate and revive Kim failed at the scene.

Kim's horse, a 12-year-old gelding called Bundaberg Black, had no major injuries in the fall.

Christopher Hodson, vice president of the International Equestrian Federation, said a full investigation into the accident was underway.

Yesterday's competition was held in rainy conditions, and concerns were raised that the course was slippery and that that may have contributed to the accident.

Hodson, however, said the course was fit to ride.

"Kim was the 11th rider," he said. "The first 10 riders completed the course successfully."

Course officials decided to suspend the competition immediately after the accident, when a downpour hit as they were repairing the fence where Kim's fall had occurred. Competition resumed later in the day.

Hodson refused to comment further until the investigation is completed.

"I have no doubt at all that this sad accident will get the same and even further examination as is always the case, and that any lessons we can learn from it will be applied," he said.

Organizers said that Kim was the first athlete to die in competition at the Asian Games that were first held in New Delhi in 1951. A volunteer died in a traffic accident here last week.

Kim's death deepened concerns over equestrian safety. Equestrian experimented with breakaway fences to reduce the dangers in the 1990s, when five riders died in as many months in Britain.

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