Olympic gold medal winner Inbee Park received what the Korean Times called a “hero’s welcome” at Incheon International Airport Tuesday, even though she arrived at 4 a.m.
The delegation greeting Park included her grandfather, who handed Park a bouquet of flowers.
“You have become the daughter of the Korean people,” he told Inbee, according to JTBC Golf.
Korean media took photographs of Park draping her gold medal around her grandfather’s neck. When Park was presented the gold medal after her five-shot triumph at the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, it was 2:08 a.m. Sunday in South Korea. Still, Nielsen Korea reported Olympic golf cumulatively claimed 23.9 percent of the television viewership in Korea with three Korean networks broadcasting the event live. LPGA international business officials believe it may be the highest rated women’s golf telecast ever in Korea.
“In Korean time, I played the game early in the morning,” Park told media at the airport. “But I’m thankful to the fans who supported me and gave me a lot of energy.”
Park is scheduled to meet with South Korean president Park Geun-hye on Thursday, Korean media reported. She’s also expected to hold a news conference that day.
Park said she played through pain in her injured left thumb winning the gold medal. She said she was using to tape to support the thumb, which alleviated some discomfort, but she abandoned the tape a week before the Olympic Games because it was affecting her feel.
“When you have tape on your fingers, you feel less pain, but you lose an acute sense,” she said. “When you focus on the game, there’s no problem.”
Park gave special credit to her husband, Gi Hyeob Nam, for helping her overcome the challenges she faced. He’s also her swing coach.
“My husband gave me courage,” she said. “He is the most precious person to me.”
Park said she would like to play the Evian Championship, the LPGA’s final major, in four weeks as her next start, but she isn’t sure she will be ready. She has been battling inflammation in the tendon and ligament of her left thumb most of the year. She said she would have an MRI and medical evaluation before deciding how to proceed competitively.