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Asia Games death 'tragic accident'

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DOHA, Qatar -- Asian Games organizers have rejected suggestions that wet conditions were responsible for the tragic death of South Korean three-day event rider Kim Hyung-Chil on Thursday.

The 47-year-old was crushed after his horse, Bundaberg Black, failed to negotiate a fence during the cross-country section.

"In my professional opinion, neither the weather nor the footing had any bearing on this accident," said Andy Griffiths, the Games eventing technical delegate.

"This is just a tragic accident that happens in our sport from time to time."

Griffiths went on to describe the effect of such a fall at 30 kilometers per hour.

"If the horse falls, it's like two tons of bricks falling on you. There is nothing you can do about it," he said.

"Every sport has an element of danger. Ours is a very safe sport. If I thought the course was unsafe, I would have stopped the event."

South Korean team doctor Park Won-Hwa said Kim, who left a wife and two children, died from multiple skull fractures and severe bleeding.

But South Korea National Olympic Committee president Kim Jung Kil has demanded a full inquiry into Thursday's death.

"We want to know if it was the rain or mismanagement of the competition. We talked to the Korean equestrian federation representative at the course and he said that the horse mistimed its jump and slipped," said he said.

"We have doubts over the schedule being too tight and the fatigue of the horses. The Games organizing committee and the Asian equestrian federation should look into this matter."

Kim Jung Kil was also furious that the competition resumed despite the death of his compatriot.

"We believe that the event was resumed a little too quickly," said Kim.

Griffiths responded by saying that all the teams agreed that the competition should be restarted.

Thursday's event took place at Qatar's Sports City despite torrential rain having turned parts of the course into a quagmire.

But Griffiths insisted the fence, where Kim Hyung Chil met his death, was safe.

"At the time of the accident, weather conditions were stable and it was not raining," he said.

"The footing on the approach and the landing was checked by me and Oliver Holberg, the footing expert for the next Olympics course and one of the most respected footing experts in the world.

"Obstacle Eight was one of the smallest on the course ... it was considered a non-problematic, relatively easy fence."

Kim Hyung-Chil's widow said her husband had wanted to win gold in Doha. "He always told me he felt guilty because he never won a gold. He promised to me he would win a gold this time," said Soh Won-Mee.


story.kim.jpg

Kim jumps a fence on Bundaberg Black shortly before he was killed.

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