He competed at Sydney after which led the South Korean wheelchair basketball workforce to its first Paralympics in 21 years.
He had wished to be on the Tokyo Paralympics, however after the Covid-19 pandemic postponed the Video games by a yr, Han died of most cancers.
Because the workforce counts right down to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, it has pledged to satisfy that ambition of its late head coach.
The South Korean wheelchair basketball workforce has solely been to the Paralympics twice: when its nation hosted the Video games in 1988 and in 2000 when an additional place was given for Asia when Sydney staged the occasion.
Han was in Sydney, as a wheelchair basketball participant, although South Korea completed eleventh out of 12 taking part nations
He retired as a participant in 2002 and have become the top coach of the nationwide workforce in 2008 to finish his purpose of reaching the semifinal on the Paralympics.
Cho was a nationwide workforce beginner in 2008 when he first met Han.
“He gave me onerous occasions that I wished to surrender basketball,” Cho recalled.
However as Cho received older and improved, Han confirmed belief in him and even helped him element his post-retirement plan of changing into a coach. Ultimately, Cho started trying as much as Han, calling him his “function mannequin.”
He describes Han as a hardworking chief with an important love for basketball.
“Basketball was all he considered … apart from when he was sleeping,” Cho stated.
Battle in opposition to most cancers
Each six months, Han had common well being checkups as a result of liver cirrhosis he had suffered for years, however at some point in 2018, he got here again from the hospital with a frightened look on his face.
“Han stated he was recognized with liver most cancers however it’s nothing critical and he simply must be handled,” Cho recalled. “We did not suppose it could be this critical.”
Most cancers would not overcome Han’s love for basketball — at the least for 2 years.
Han continued to educate the nationwide workforce and the Seoul Metropolis Corridor wheelchair basketball workforce whereas receiving therapy.
In 2019, he even briefly halted therapy to go to the 2019 Asia Oceania Championship held in Pattaya, Thailand, regardless of the workforce asking him to not take the danger. The workforce completed second, after Australia, to safe their 2020 Tokyo Paralympics ticket.
“I personally suppose his situation worsened as of that time,” Cho stated.
The workforce educated in Yanggu, Gangwon province, in August when the Icheon Coaching Middle was banned final yr in March as a consequence of Covid-19. From there, Han made five-hour spherical journeys to Seoul each night time to get therapy after coaching — up till a month earlier than he died.
Battling most cancers is just not simple, however Han did not need to distract the gamers, so he stored his situation a secret from many of the workforce apart from captain Cho and few veteran gamers.
When Cho discovered Han throwing up in his room as a result of exhausting anticancer drug he had been placed on, the coach instructed his captain to return in rapidly and shut the door so different gamers do not see him struggling in ache.
“Han was trustworthy about his situation to some, however in entrance of others he stated, ‘I am okay, all the things’s effective,’ however he was in nice ache,” Cho recalled.
Han died on September 26, 2020. Liver most cancers had rapidly unfold to his lungs and face.
A couple of week earlier than he died, Han gathered the workforce on the hospital foyer, the one allowed location for guests to fulfill a affected person as a consequence of Covid-19 restrictions.
Cho remembers Han coming down with a respirator connected and his physique half the dimensions from what it had been a month beforehand.
Han held and spoke to every participant. He did not overlook to remind Cho of his obligations as a captain, the identical message he gave Cho each time.
“Even once I’m going by means of onerous occasions,” Cho stated, “he all the time instructed me to maintain others as a result of I am the captain and one of many oldest.”
Paralympics for Han
Had the Paralympics not been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Cho believes that his late coach would have traveled to Tokyo to place a interval on his profession.
“I believe he would’ve felt higher if he had closed his eyes in Tokyo, as a result of Paralympics was his last purpose,” Cho stated, acknowledging that Han would have insisted on touring regardless of his poor well being situation.
The workforce, now led by Han’s former teammate Ko Kwang-yub, is again specializing in the Paralympics in Tokyo, working to satisfy its late head coach’s dream.
Even when the South Korean wheelchair basketball workforce wasn’t ok to be in high 10, Han instructed the gamers that they’ll make it to the Paralympic semifinals in the event that they make an effort.
“Having been instructed for years that we will do it, I really suppose it is doable,” Cho stated of the workforce’s purpose because it prepares for the Paralympics.
The workforce has been totally vaccinated and returned to the Icheon Coaching Middle underneath strict Covid-19 measures — exterior persons are banned whereas athletes are required to get examined to enter the power — and is spending greater than 20 days a month there.
As a captain, Cho acknowledged that the workforce has loads to enhance, which it was in a position to work on throughout the additional yr given. “We did not battle an excessive amount of when the Video games have been postponed as a consequence of Covid-19,” he defined.
When requested what he would inform Han if he may at this second, Cho contemplated and stated, “We’ll all the time preserve you in our hearts … I consider your basketball will work on the Paralympics, so when you can watch over us from the heaven, we’ll do our greatest to attain your unfinished purpose.”