Asia-Pacific

Winter Olympics: South Korea moguls coach Toby Dawson’s remarkable family reunion

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South Korea’s moguls coach Toby Dawson’s tale of hard work and persistence goes farther than most athletes and coaches.

Most athletes and coaches have a tale of hard work and persistence that got them to the 2018 Winter Olympics, but South Korea's moguls coach Toby Dawson's journey has been unlike any other.

Even though his athletes didn't win a medal, coaching the host nation's Olympic moguls team is another chapter in his remarkable story.

As a toddler, Mr Dawson was separated from his mother while shopping in the South Korean city of Busan.

Toby Dawson with his adoptive parents, MIke and Deborah Dawson.
Toby Dawson with his adoptive parents, MIke and Deborah Dawson.
SBS News

“I guess I just wandered off,” the moguls coach said.

“When she turned around to look for me she couldn’t find me.”

The three-year-old was sent to live in an orphanage where he was adopted by two ski instructors from Vail, Colorado.

“Man I am so lucky... to grow up in the United States,” Mr Dawson said.

“What a wonderful place to grow up with such loving parents and to have all these amazing opportunities.”

Toby Dawson shows off one of his medals.
Toby Dawson shows off one of his medals.
SBS News

Mr Dawson quickly took to the slopes, competing as part of the US moguls team at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics where he claimed bronze.

The international attention prompted a number of people to come forward, claiming they were his relatives including his biological father Kim Jae-soo. 

The two men met in a very public reunion in 2007 - at a media press conference in South Korea.

"After being able to kind of get comfortable with the situation, and obviously looking at my dad for quite a bit of time, realising very similar facial structure and the same kind of facial hair, which is not very common in Korea, I was like 'wow, this is kind of like looking into a mirror for when I am much older'."

"When she turned around to look for me she couldn’t find me," Toby Dawson recalls the moment he last saw his biological mother.
"When she turned around to look for me she couldn’t find me," Toby Dawson recalls the moment he last saw his biological mother.
SBS News

Having rediscovered his roots, in 2012 Mr Dawson took up the challenge to become the head coach of South Korea's freestyle moguls team. 

"To become a national team coach and walk in with all the Korean athletes and also the North Korean athletes in the opening ceremony and to coaching these athletes at the Olympics games: I have had so many cool opportunities."

The South Korean skiing team plans to train for the Beijing Winter Games in 2022. 

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