* This post is written by Somchandra Nahakpam, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers
Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung was picked as the top South Korean athlete of 2011 in a national survey announced Tuesday, December 27. 2011.
In the poll by Gallup Korea conducted from Nov. 18 to Dec. 6 on 1,728 South Koreans at least 13 years of age, the footballer earned 57.6 percent of the votes for his first top ranking in six years.
Figure skater Kim Yu-na was a close second with 55.9 percent. She ranked No. 1 from 2007 to 2009 and was second last year.
The voters were asked to select the top two athletes of the year, Gallup Korea said.
Park, 30, helped South Korea to a third-place finish at the Asian Cup tournament in Qatar in January. Manchester United won their record 19th English Premier League title this year and ended runner-up to FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.
Park set his English career-high with eight goals in the 2010-2011 season.
Kim was the only female athlete in the top 10. She ranked second at the world championships in April, but her biggest contribution came off the ice. The former Olympic champion was an honorary ambassador for PyeongChang in its successful bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, and made a presentation before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote in July that awarded PyeongChang the right to host the country’s first Winter Games.
Swimmer Park Tae-hwan, who topped the Gallup poll last year, ranked third this year with 26 percent. He won his second career world title in the men’s 400-meter freestyle in July.
Baseball slugger Lee Dae-ho was a distant fourth at 6.5 percent. He bolted the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) earlier this month for the Orix Buffaloes in Japan, signing a two-year deal worth 760 million yen ($9.8 million) to become the highest-paid Korean in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).
Footballer Park Chu-young, who joined Arsenal of the Premier League this year, was fifth. Baseball players Park Chan-ho, Choo Shin-soo and Lee Seung-yeop, PGA Tour golfer Choi Kyoung-ju and Scottish Premier League football player Ki Sung-yueng rounded out the top 10.
Choo, an outfielder for the Cleveland Indians and the only South Korean in Major League Baseball (MLB), dropped from third to seventh this year. He was arrested for driving under the influence in May and injuries limited him to just eight home runs, 36 runs batted in and a .259 batting average in 85 games, his worst statistical year in four seasons. Choo was coming off his second straight “20-20″ season with at least 20 homers and 20 steals. (Yonhap)
Source: Korea Times