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Men over 50 who became national representatives, surprising the world

In 2014 , when five people met at a curling club and were in the midst of curling at the Senior World Championships

, Cheon In-seon (55, 46 years old at the time) joked. “Isn’t it possible to become our national representative by working so hard?” Gangneung Solhyang Club team curling club men laughed. Gangneung people gathered because they were interested in curling at the Sochi Winter Olympics held that year.

And in December 2022, eight years later, an announcement was posted at the club stadium to recruit a national team for the Gangneung Senior Curling World Championships. The hearts of the men in their 50s who worked as truck drivers, guest house owners, and academy directors became hot. ‘Shall we try it?’ After going through a skill test among 10 applicants, 5 really got the Taegeuk mark. They are Shin Man-ho (53), Ham Young-woo (55), Cheon In-seon, and Choi Jong-gyeong (66) from the Gangneung Solhyang Club team. Huh Jung-wook (51), who sometimes enjoyed curling with them, also joined.

Average age 56 years. These guys started lodging in the Jincheon National Training Center in January, which is open only to the national team. The weight of the Taegeuk mark on the left chest was not light. From the ‘sweeping’ posture, which involves sweeping the ice with a broom (a broom-like brush), I had to practice again for hours. Shin Man-ho said, “The capillaries on his arm burst and he was bruised.” This is because curling uses the same muscles intensively, but it requires a different amount of training than the club level.

Cheon In-seon, a skip who plays the role of a conductor in curling, studied tactics while watching the games of overseas strong players on the night after training. Choi Jong-kyung, the oldest member of the team, said, “I felt like my body and mind were tired of playing separately.”

Even though it is a senior championship, the national team is the national team. They left their livelihood behind and devoted themselves to training for four months. The family, who seemed to object, saying, “What are you doing?” cheered them on, saying안전놀이터, “Dedicate everything you have to do.” Choi Jong-kyung said, “I was able to endure the training thanks to my grandson’s support.” ‘Team Kim’, a silver medalist at the PyeongChang Olympics, visited Jincheon and became his practice partner. In mid-April, when the ‘hell training’ continued, they recalled, “One day before the competition, when we saw each other, we were in a good posture.”

The tournament finally opened on the 22nd of last month. The first opponent was England, where ‘curling legend’ John Brown (69) endured. All England team members are from the national team. I felt intimidated before the match. Korea gave 3 points in the first end. Shin Man-ho said, “Because he is one head taller than us, he was completely pushed out of his momentum.” The one who changed the mood was Skip Cheon In-seon. In the 4th end, which had been pushed back 1-4, Cheon In-seon succeeded in scoring the seemingly impossible goal and brought 2 points. Cheon In-seon said, “I’m the same person anyway, so I thought I’d give it a try.” England was embarrassed by the unexpected goal, and then collapsed by allowing Korea to score 5 points. South Korea won 8-4. Everyone said it was a miracle.

The second match against Latvia was more dramatic. It seemed to win smoothly, scoring 6 points in the 1st and 2nd ends. I was so excited. After that, Stone gave up 8 points without going where he intended. With the 9th end trailing by 6-8, they made up their minds and went into overtime, scoring 1 point each. 10-8 come-from-behind victory. Korea, which won two consecutive victories, suddenly became the number one target for other teams to be wary of. Han Sang-ho, president of the Korea Curling Federation, said, “I never thought that we, a group of club members, would win against a team from another country, which was made up of former national representatives.”

But the miracle ended here. As Mr. Heo Jeong-wook was confirmed with Corona, he could not come out from the 3rd game, and 4 people depended on their stamina to play the role of 5 people. After that, they suffered 5 consecutive losses and were eliminated from the group stage with 2 wins and 5 losses. Heo Jeong-wook was speechless, saying, “It was an opportunity that would never come again in his life, but I felt so sorry for his teammates.” Cheon In-seon said, “There were some injured, but my mental strength was lacking. He was intoxicated with two consecutive victories and couldn’t get his mind right.” Shin Man-ho laughed, saying, “I will never curse at soccer or baseball team games from now on.”

These five people who met at the Gangneung Curling Center on the 4th said, “(The period) was like a dream. Now you have returned to your present life.” This time, the venue was Gangneung, so the federation specially recruited a team for an event. The next tournament will be held overseas, so it’s not clear if they will compete again.

“Now that I’m in my mid-50s, yesterday seems like today, and tomorrow feels like yesterday. Curling was a ray of light that changed my boring life. Thanks to that, I have an experience that I will never have in my life wearing the Taegeuk mark. If you focus on one thing, you seem to achieve something anyway. If there is a chance next winter, I will try again.” Insun Cheon said with a faint smile as she held up her broom.

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