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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 11:57 GMT
US skier to meet S Korean father
Toby Dawson and fiancee Leah Halmi arrive at Incheon airport in South Korea - 27/02/07
Toby Dawson's story has made headlines in South Korea
A US skier whose Olympic medal brought to light his biological father is in South Korea for their first reunion.

28-year-old Toby Dawson admitted he felt a mixture of emotions as he prepared to meet Kim Jae-su, a bus driver from the port city of Busan.

Mr Kim said he lost his son while visiting a street market in 1981.

Mr Dawson's 2006 bronze medal, and the story of his adoption by a US couple, prompted dozens of South Koreans to claim they were his biological parents.

Kim Jae-su, 53, said he had made the connection after friends and relatives called him, saying the skier looked just like him.

He said he never reported the fact his son was missing to police because he did not think it would help, instead looking for the child himself.

Recent genetic tests proved the two men were father and son.

"It brings up a lot of emotions to meet my biological father," Mr Dawson told reporters before Wednesday's scheduled reunion in Seoul.

"I am still unsure exactly how I feel about it. I had some happiness. I had a little anger. I have been excited. It is just like, keep going through all different emotions. I look forward to meeting this man."

Paternity claims

Mr Dawson - who won bronze in the men's mogul competition at the 2006 Olympics in Turin - was adopted at the age of three by Deborah and Mike Dawson, ski instructors from Colorado, who found him in a Seoul orphanage.

They had been told the boy had been abandoned.

Toby Dawson (file photo)
Toby Dawson was raised by ski instructors from Colorado

Mr Dawson has admitted that, despite his loving parents, his childhood was tough as he struggled to fit in.

"I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb," he said. "All I wanted to do was just to look like the average kids with just brown hair and blonde hair."

But he believes his childhood shyness helped him develop the necessary aggression he needed to be a top-class skier.

His success in Turin last year brought him huge media attention in South Korea, and prompted dozens of people to claim they were his real parents.

Mr Dawson - who has been accompanied on the trip by his fiancée Leah Halmi - admitted he had many questions for his father.

"Why I was lost for so long and why I was in the orphanage, why the search wasn't a little bit stronger and efforts weren't a little bit bigger to help find me," he said.

The Olympic medallist has been made an honorary ambassador by the Korean Tourism Organisation, which helped him trace his biological father.

While in South Korea, he will also attend an event supporting a bid by the South Korean ski resort of Pyeongchang to host the 2014 winter Olympics.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Toby Dawson on the prospect of meeting his birth family



SEE ALSO
S Korean claims US skier his son
20 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific

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