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Olympic Bronze medalist Toby Dawson met his biological father today after being separated 25 years ago in South Korea.
Dawson, 28, had publicly announced a search for his parents prior to the Olympics, but had no luck. After winning the bronze for men’s freestyle moguls in the 2006 Torino Olympics, several Koreans came forward claiming to be his parents. Bus driver Kim Jae-Soo was told by friends that he looked like the U.S. skier and should contact Dawson. In a news conference Tuesday, Dawson announced that DNA tests had matched his blood and hair sample with that of Kim, and a meeting was set for today in Seoul.
“I’m still in utter surprise, Dawson told reporters from ABC News. “I’m not even sure it’s really hit me that I really am going to be walking into the same room with this man tomorrow. So I’m kind of anticipating and looking forward to it.
He was separated from his father in 1981 during a shopping trip in a South Korean street market. Kim did not notify the police when he lost his son, instead deciding to look for him himself.
At age three, Dawson was adopted from a Seoul orphanage by two Vail ski instructors, and learned to ski when he was four. He started competing at six, moved onto mogul skiing at 12, and at 20 joined the U.S. Ski Team. In 2005, Dawson became the dual moguls World Champion. He credits his aggression on the hill to his shyness, saying it was hard to fit in as a child.
“I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb, he told reporters from the BBC. “All I wanted to do was just to look like the average kids with just brown hair and blonde hair.
Dawson has been involved with the Korean Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families since he was young, and says he has found a lot of satisfaction working with the kids as a counselor now.
Dawson’s trip to South Korea will also include ceremonies honoring him as a PR ambassador by the Korea National Tourism Organization and by The 2014 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee.