'Tears everyday': Athlete found dead at 22 after 'years of abuse'

Riley Morgan
·Sports Reporter
·2-min read
Triathlete Choi Suk-hyeon, 22, after a triathlon event for South Korea.
Triathlete Choi Suk-hyeon, 22, reportedly found dead after alleging she reported abuse from coaching staff. (Image: BBC)

A 22-year-old South Korean triathlete has died after alleging her coaching staff abused her, according to reports.

World Triathlon has called on the Korean Triathlon Federation (KTF) to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Choi Suk-hyeon, after the 22-year-old alleged ‘years of abuse’ was ignored, according to the BBC.

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Choi was selected as part of the national triathlon team as a teenager in 2015 and won a bronze medal in the junior event at the 2015 Asian triathlon championships in Taipei.

But in shocking circumstances, audio tapes from YTN TV appear to back-up allegations from her parents that Choi was subjected to beatings and harassment during her time with the national team.

In one recording, a male voice appears to call her over, before claiming: "You! Come here. Clamp your jaws together," before a slapping sound is heard.

Choi Suk-hyeon, pictured here on social media.
Choi Suk-hyeon has died at the age of 22. Image: Twitter

The 22-year-old kept a journal, with one report claiming she wrote: “I am shedding tears every day.”

Choi reportedly filed complaints to the South Korean Olympic Committee in April, asking for an investigation.

The committee denied ignoring her complaints, claiming in a statement: “The committee has assigned a female investigator after receiving Choi’s plea in early April.”

World Triathlon call for investigation

World Triathlon said in a statement that they had contacted the KTF and the South Korean Olympic Committee (KSOC) to gather details about the death of the 22-year-old.

“World Triathlon is deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the death of Choi,” the governing body said.

“The World Triathlon Safeguarding and Anti-Harassment Group has contacted the Korean Federation to make sure that while the investigation is carried out, all Korean triathletes are protected and safe.”

The KTF could not be reached for comment.

The case recalls that of Shim Suk-hee, a two-time Winter Olympic gold medalist in skating, and her case which sent shockwaves through South Korean sport.

Shim accused her former coach, Cho Jae-beom, of assaulting her.

He was convicted of assaulting her and other skaters in 2018.

With Reuters

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