A Canadian coach who guided the South Korean women's curling team to a silver medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics has backed the curlers' abuse claim.
Peter Gallant, who was a coach of the South Korean curling team that is better known by its nickname Garlic Girls or Team Kim, said in a statement Thursday that he stands "100 percent behind" the curlers who claim irregular, unfair treatment by their head coach and management.
The curling team, comprised of skip Kim Eun-jung, lead Kim Yeong-mi, second Kim Seon-yeong, third Kim Kyeong-ae and candidate Kim Cho-hee, recently sent a letter to the Korean Sports and Olympic Committee claiming that the athletes have been abused by their head coach Kim Min-jung; her husband, Jang Ban-seok; and her father, Kim Kyung-doo.
Kim Kyung-doo is a former vice president at the Korean Curling Federation who built the country's first curling-only stadium in Uiseong, North Gyeongsang Province, also the hometown of the Team Kim curlers. Jang was head coach for South Korea's mixed curling team at the PyeongChang Olympics. With Kim Min-jung, the two were considered big contributors to Team Kim's success.
Gallant, who left Team Kim after the Olympics, said he is very proud of the team's success at the PyeongChang Olympics, but he also acknowledged there were "unnecessary roadblocks" in regards to Kim Min-jung and her family.
"There were many challenges along that road, and many of them seemed to me to be unnecessary roadblocks as a result of the actions of the team's management, and the ongoing conflict between the team's management and the Korean Curling Federation," Gallant said. "I understand the relationship has deteriorated between the team and their management."
Gallant said he found out that "things were not going well," when he attended Kim Eun-jung's wedding in July, though he didn't realize how bad it was.
Gallant said he was also treated badly by the management, citing communication to financial problems.
"Getting paid was always an issue," he said. "Frequently, I was not paid on time."
When it comes to communication, Gallant said decisions on various issues always were made at the very last minute.
"It was difficult to plan anything due to the last-minute actions and management's inability to either schedule properly or to communicate the schedule."
Like the curlers, Gallant claimed that Kim Min-jung lacked expertise and was not a big help to the team "She claimed to be 'head coach' and had to be in all the photos, but her expertise in curling was below that of the athletes," he said. "Even though I was hired to coach the team, (Kim Min-jung) wanted to set the practice agenda regardless of what I felt was needed."
After the PyeongChang Olympics, Team Kim failed to win the national team trial in August for the 2018-19 season. The curlers claimed that they had little time to train, while the management tried to exclude skip Kim Eun-jung from the team after she got married in July.
"It is very disappointing that one of the top women's curling teams in the world is not playing," he said. "These girls have not even reached their prime yet. ... Their world ranking is dropping, and it will be costly and difficult to get back to the top tier of curling. This is such a shame." (Yonhap)