DAEGU (Yonhap) -- Kim Hyun-sub on Sunday became the first South Korean athlete to rank inside the top 10 at these World Championships in Athletics, finishing sixth in the men's 20-kilometer race walk.
Kim finished the race in one hour, 21 minutes and 17 seconds.
Russia's Valeriy Borchin took the gold at 1:19:56, followed by compatriot Vladimir Kanaykin at 1:20:27 in second and Colombian Luis Fernando Lopez in third at 1:20:38.
South Korea has never won a medal at the world championships, which began in 1983, aside from an unofficial silver in the men's marathon team event in 2007 in Osaka.
Its goal this time is to place 10 athletes in 10 events, but even that appears daunting after a slow start so far in Daegu.
South Korea has had only five top-10 finishes at the world championships.
Kim entered the race with the seventh fastest time this year at 1:19:31, about a minute behind the season leader Wang Zhen of China. The 26-year-old was considered a sleeper for a medal on home soil for his improving performances in recent years.
Kim said he was still satisfied with his run, even without a medal.
"The temperatures kept rising as the race went on, and I think it helped me when other racers started slowing," Kim said. "It was just a painful race. All I wanted to do was just cross the finish line as fast as I could."
Kim said he was aware of expectations on him to win a medal, but he was at least happy to break the string of low finishes at major competitions.
"I used to be around 20th or 30th at major events before, but now I've become more confident after putting up a good performance at home," he said. "I will now shift my focus to the London Olympics next year."
Lee Min-ho, coach for the race walkers, said he accepted the discrepancy between Kim and other top runners.
"This is really where Korea stands now. We're still behind Russia and China," Lee asid. "We were successful in getting Kim to pick up his pace midway through the race. But if he wants to do better at London Olympics, he would have to be around one hour and
Female long jumper Jung Soon-ok was knocked out of the qualifications on Saturday, and female pole vaulter Choi Yun-hee came up short of reaching the next round on Sunday.
Park Bong-go in the men's 400 meters and Park Tae-kyong in the men's 110-meter hurdles also failed to make it out of their heats Sunday.
That leaves Kim Deok-hyeon, who will enter the men's long jump and triple jump, as the host's best hope for a top-10 finish.
Only two other hosts, Sweden in 1995 and Canada in 2001, were shut of medals at the world championships.