Olympic champion cut from South Korean team amid tripping probe

Shim Suk-hee has been cut from South Korea's short-track speedskating team after a reported text message exchange that suggested she may have intentionally tripped a team-mate during the 2018 Winter Games.

South Korea's Shim Suk-hee. - AP

Two-time Olympic champion Shim Suk-hee has been cut from South Korea's short-track speedskating team after a reported text message exchange that suggested she may have intentionally tripped a team-mate during the 2018 Winter Games.

The Korea Staking Union on Wednesday said it's preparing to launch an investigation and had barred the 24-year-old Shim from competing in the International Skating Union short-track speedskating World Cup series beginning next week.

The Seoul-based Dispatch online news outlet last week revealed what it described as text messages exchanged between Shim and her coach during the last Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In the messages, Shim reportedly insulted team-mates Choi Min-jeong and Kim A-lang and discussed making Choi a "female Steven Bradbury." Bradbury likely refers to an Australian short-track skater who won the 1,000-metre final in the 2002 Winter Olympics after every other skater in the final fell over. But what exactly Shim and her coach meant in the messages wasn't clear — Bradbury won the gold medal.

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After the messages were exchanged, Shim and Choi did take each other out amid a desperate late charge in the 1,000-meter race. Shim was later disqualified and Choi ranked fourth.

Shim on Monday issued a statement via her agency apologising to Choi, Kim and all others who must have been disappointed and hurt by "my immature attitude, words and behaviours." She still argued in the statement she didn't deliberately trip Choi, according to local media.

Shim's agency on Wednesday couldn't immediately share the statement with The Associated Press.

Shim and Choi are both prominent South Korean short trackers. Shim won Olympic gold medals in the 3,000-metre relay in 2014 and 2018. Choi won gold medals in the 3,000-metre relay and the 1,500-metre race at Pyeongchang.

Shim made headlines after the 2018 Olympics when she accused another former coach of rape.

Amid a growing #MeToo movement in South Korea, Shim's case encouraged other female athletes to speak up about the alleged abuse they suffered from their coaches.

The former coach was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.

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