May 16, 2019 / 3:33 AM / 4 days ago

Olympic champion Park wants to defend her title in Tokyo

FILE PHOTO: Park In-bee of South Korea hits off the sixth tee during the first round of the LPGA Canadian Women's Open golf tournament in Coquitlam, British Columbia August 23, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Clark

(Reuters) - Former world number one Park In-bee has said she wants to defend her Olympic crown at next year’s Summer Games in Tokyo after initially having doubts over whether she would compete.

Park, seven-times a major champion, won the gold medal for South Korea in the Rio by five strokes from New Zealand’s Lydia Ko to become the first Olympic women’s golf champion in 116 years.

“When the Rio Olympics ended, I thought the next Olympics four years later were too far off,” Park told reporters ahead of this week’s Doosan Match Play Championship in Chuncheon.

“I doubted whether I could be still active until then. But as the next Olympics is getting closer, I think it is worth a try.”

Park, 30, regained the number one spot in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) rankings in April this year but is now in sixth place.

The top 15 players in the rankings automatically qualify for the Olympics with a limit of four golfers per country. Park is the third-highest ranked South Korean behind world number one Ko Jin-young and number three Park Sung-hyun.

“I know making it to the national team is harder than winning the Olympic gold,” Park added.

“I must be very happy and pleased to have a chance to play at the Olympics and defend my title.”

The Olympics get underway in Tokyo on July 24 next year.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney

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