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Rider dies after horse falls on him during Asian Games

DOHA, Qatar -- South Korean Kim Hyung-chil was crushed by
his horse after missing a jump on a muddy equestrian course at the
Asian Games on Thursday, raising concern over how organizers
managed the event.

It was the first death of a competitor in the 55-year history of
the Asian Games.

Kim died after his 12-year-old gelding, Bundaberg Black, missed
the eighth fence on the cross-country course, threw the rider and
then rolled over him.

Kim, who never regained consciousness, was taken to a hospital.
The Asian Games organizing committee confirmed his death.

South Korean Olympic officials originally suspected that poor weather conditions were a factor in the accident, but ruled that possibility out Friday.

There had been pools of water on the eventing course due to
heavy rain, but technical delegate Andy Griffiths said that at
the time of Kim's fall the rain had relented.

"At the time of the accident, weather conditions were stable
and it was not raining," Griffiths said in a news conference.

"In my professional opinion, neither the weather nor the
footing had any bearing on this accident."

Kim fell from his horse at the 4-foot, 11-inch fence on No. 8, a
relatively easy obstacle, during the cross-country stage of the
three-day competition. Kim, a 47-year-old father of two, received
severe trauma to his head and chest and was pronounced dead soon
after arrival at the hospital.

Course officials suspended the equestrian competition after the
accident, when a downpour hit as they were repairing the fence
where Kim's fall had occurred.

But the team competition resumed two hours later on a course
strewn with large pools of water and mud. Indian rider Palvinder
Singh also fell and his horse came down on top of him, but he was
uninjured.

The decision to resume competition further angered the South
Koreans.

"We believe the resumption of the event was a bit too hasty,"
Olympic Committee President Kim said.

Heavy rains have repeatedly hampered the games, the first ever
held in the Middle East.

Christopher Hodson, vice president of the International
Equestrian Federation, said the accident was being investigated and
refused to comment on what might have caused the horse to miss the
jump.

Hodson, however, said the course was fit to ride.

"Kim was the 11th rider," he said. "The first 10 riders
completed the course successfully."

Kim, a silver medalist at home in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan,
was the oldest and one of the most experienced riders for South
Korea. He was to receive a medal from the South Korean government
and be buried in its national cemetery, officials said. His family
was to arrive in Doha on Friday.

Organizers said Kim was the first athlete to die in competition
at the Asian Games, a regional Olympics that were first held in New
Delhi in 1951. A volunteer died in a traffic accident here last
week.

Concerns over safety are often raised in equestrian sports.

Equestrian experimented with breakaway fences to reduce the
dangers in the 1990s, when five riders died in as many months in
Britain. The 1995 riding accident that paralyzed "Superman" actor
Christopher Reeve also highlighted the sport's dangers. Reeve died
in 2004.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.