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Olympians show gratitude to Hyundai.

Hyundai Motor Group has been praised for sponsoring winter sports, which have not been popular in Korea. Athletes, who were out of the limelight before Hyundai's support, have expressed gratitude to the nation's leading automotive group.

Among those who have had especially close ties to Hyundai Motor, is Korea's national bobsled team.

Since the carmaker gave the T-bobsled to the team in October 2014, the company has not only researched and developed sleds, but also supported coaching staff for improvements in the athletes' performances

Plus, it began developing its own bobsleds in 2015 and delivered them to the national team a year later.

The delivery ceremony for the sled at the firm's research center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, was attended by Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Yang Woong-chul and Korea's national bobsled team athletes and coaching staff.

Female bobsledders Kim Yoo-ran and Kim Min-seong will use a sled made by Hyundai Motor. They ranked first in the two-women bobsled at the 2016-2017 North American Cup, scoring a total of 782 points with two gold medals and one silver medal.

With a fuselage that has enhanced flexibility, the bobsled developed by Hyundai enables smooth cornering and minimizes air resistance. The company has also begun developing sled runners, which are important for a better performance.

Hyundai's bobsled is blue and red, the colors of the Taegeukgi, the Korean national flag. Its curved body shows the sleigh's speed and dynamic image.

"Hyundai Motor's support has contributed greatly to our team's performance," national team head coach Lee Yong said.

Although the leading bobsled duo Won Yun-jong and Seo Young-woo, who used Hyundai's sled in the 2016-2017 season, finally decided to use Latvia's BTC sled for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the head coach denied speculation that the decision was made over the difference between the two sleds in performances.

"It was difficult to make the decision," Lee said. "The duo had to select a sled that they were more used to."

The Korea Bobsled and Skeleton Federation also said the national team could not have achieved its success, unless Hyundai supported the team.

"Hyundai Motor has helped us in various fields since 2014, when bobsledding was unfamiliar to Koreans," an official of the federation said. "Based on Hyundai's supports, the nation's athletes have been able to improve themselves."

Defining Hyundai's bobsled as world-class, the head coach Lee said he wants the cooperation with Hyundai to continue after the PyeongChang Games.

Supporter of winter sports

Hyundai Motor and its sister company, Kia Motors, have been known for supporting winter sports athletes, in addition to the bobsledders.

Kia Motors has helped speed skaters since the 2004 World Single Distance Speed Skating Championships, although the company was not an official sponsor of the event. In 2010, it also sponsored the nation's star speed skaters Lee Seung-hoon, Mo Tae-bum and Lee Sang-hwa during the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

Figure-skating legend Kim Yuna also benefited from Hyundai Motor's sponsorship. The carmaker said it offered various kinds of support including providing vehicles during her training.

Those who were granted support from Hyundai are not only Koreans, but also foreign athletes.

Akwasi Frimpong, Ghana's first skeleton athlete, posted photos of himself with his Santa Fe on his Instagram, saying Murdock Hyundai Murray, the carmaker's U.S. dealership, offered the sports utility vehicle to him for his commute to training and competitions.

Hyundai's official global account on the social network Hyundai_Worldwide responded, rooting for the second African athlete to compete in the skeleton.

Hyundai Motor also became an official sponsor for the Federation International de Ski in 2012 to help organize a number of official events such as the Ski Jump World Cup, Ski Flying Championship and Nordic World Ski Championship.
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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Geographic Code:9SOUT
Date:Feb 9, 2018
Words:736
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