JAKARATA/SEOUL -- For this year's Asian Para Games, Lim Woo-geun is looking forward to more than just winning a gold medal. The 31-year-old is eagerly anticipating competing with North Koreans in a unified team.
"I have yet to meet North Korean athletes, but when I heard the words 'unified Korean team' it gave me goosebumps," Lim said after training at Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Center in Jakarta, on Wednesday. "Regardless of the result, it will be nice just competing with them."
For the first time ever in their para sports history, South and North Korea will send joint teams to an international competition for disabled athletes. The Koreas agreed to compete together as one team in the men's table tennis team competition and the men's swimming medley relay event. The rosters for the joint teams have yet to be announced.
"There is a possibility that a North Korean swimmer takes the freestyle portion of the medley relay, while South Korean swimmers cover the rest," South Korea's para swimming head coach Sun Chang-yong said. "Lim is likely to compete in breaststroke."
Lim is a star of South Korean para swimming. He won a gold medal at the 2012 London Paralympics and a silver medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in the men's 100-meter breaststroke SB5 event.
"If I can compete as a member of the joint Korean team, it would be a glorious moment of my career after the Paralympics," Lim said.
Lim, who has impairment to his lower limbs due to brain damage, is looking for his third straight Asian Para Game gold medal in the 100m breaststroke SB5 event. He took gold medals at Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014.
"I'm thinking that this could be my last Games, so I'll do my best," he said.
However, there is one variable that could affect Lim's plan.
The organizers have yet to confirm whether the SB5 and SB6 categories of the men's 100m breaststroke should be staged as one event. The 3rd Asian Para Games in Jakarta will start on Saturday. (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap)