South Korean two-time Olympic gold medallist, Shim Suk-hee, has accused her former coach, Cho Jae-beom, of repeatedly sexually assaulting her since she was 17 years old.
Twenty-one-year-old Shim Suk-hee is a member of South Korea’s national short-track speed skating team and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
The New York Times reports that Mr Cho, 38, was sacked as national team coach shortly before the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on allegations of “violent abuse” against athletes.
In September, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for physically assaulting four athletes, including Shim, between 2011 and the run-up to the Pyeongchang Games.
There have been allegation among sports analysts that South Korea’s glory in short-track speed skating has been built on a brutal training regimen that included beatings and other forms of violence.
Speaking through his lawyers, coach Cho denied raping Shim, while the Police said that they had confiscated Cho’s cellphone and computers to look for criminal evidence.
Shim’s accusations against her former coach have sent shock waves through the country’s sports community, as the athlete has won more than 20 gold medals in international competitions since 2012, including a gold in the 3,000-meter team relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
She also won the same medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
In response, South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, said on Monday, “This unveils the humiliating underside of our country’s glorious façade as a sports powerhouse;” calling for a thorough investigation, and promising his government’s cooperation to help other victims feel safe enough to speak out.
His remarks came as more than 260,000 people signed a petition to his office demanding a longer prison term for Mr Cho.
Shim’s troubles first came to public attention on January 2018, when she left the national team training facility in the run-up to the Pyeongchang Games because of physical abuse.
Mr Cho was quickly removed as coach after an investigation.
He was briefly hired to coach the Chinese national team after he was banned from working in South Korea, but he later returned home to face trial.
“I came here so that there will be no more victims like me,” Shim Suk-hee said.
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