South Korean women's volleyball captain Kim Yeon-koung lamented the lack of support from the nation's volleyball association at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics as she returned home to a warm welcome on Saturday.
South Korea was eliminated in the women's volleyball quarterfinals at the Rio Games after losing to the Netherlands. The country was pursuing its first Olympic volleyball medal -- male or female -- since the women's team won bronze in 1976 in Montreal.
Kim said it was a pity that the team had to compete at the Olympics without getting full support from the Korea Volleyball Association.
In Rio, only four coaching staffers -- head coach, assistant coach, physical trainer and performance analyst -- accompanied 12 players. There was no team physician and translator assigned to the team, and no one from the KVA even visited Brazil during the Olympics, citing the insufficient number of credential cards for the Rio Games.
"They (the association) could have made an environment for us to only focus on playing games," Kim said after her arrival at Incheon International Airport outside Seoul. "But it's a pity."
Off the court, her teammates said Kim had to serve as a translator because she was only one on the team who spoke English fluently.
"Even I was feeling stressed as many chores went to her," said Kim Hae-ran who took the same return flight with Kim Yeon-koung. "But she did it without complaining."
Kim Yeon-koung was one of the top performers at the Rio Games. Despite the quarterfinals elimination, she is currently the top scorer in the women's volleyball tournament with 112 points in six matches.
Aside from off court issues, Kim said South Korea will be stronger if many players go overseas and play in more competitive leagues. Kim, playing with Turkish club Fenerbahce, was the only player on the squad who competes in the foreign league.
"Our international competitiveness will improve if many players compete against European athletes," she said. "I believe this will better our performance at the major events like the Olympics."
Kim said she won't think about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for now as she wants to take time off. The 28-year-old will stay in South Korea before returning to her Turkish club.
"It's sad that we couldn't get the result that we had been working on," she said. "But the Olympics is over. I don't want my teammates to have regrets."
The South Korean women's volleyball team took four separate flights from Rio, with five players already having arrived on Friday. (Yonhap)