Posted December. 09, 2009 09:02,
At the Kyoraku Cup in Okinawa, Japan, last week, Korean women golfers went from heaven to hell in an instant.
They were reveling over winning the Korea-Japan team tournament for the first time in three years, 29-19. While tossing team captain Lee Ji-hee into the air in celebration, players saw the smiles on their faces abruptly disappear.
Lees waist hit the edge of the winners steel rostrum. Shocked, she began showing symptoms of vomiting and was rushed to a hospital.
To the players relief, a medical exam showed that she sustained a simple bruise. The players, however, pledged never to toss anyone after a victory again.
The incident also made headlines in Japanese media.
Getting tossed into the air after a victory is the dream of every Korean or Japanese athlete and coach. Those who have been tossed say the feeling is indescribable until experienced.
Kim Kyung-moon, who led the Korean national baseball team to the Olympic gold medal in Beijing last year, was tossed after his squad won the championship game. Id still be happy if I fell to the ground and died, he said.
Shin Chee-yong, whose pro volleyball team Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance won its 10th championship this season, also said, You simply cannot be happier.
Tossing requires teammates to cooperate in keeping their tossing and receiving motions in synch. This is known to strengthen unity and bonds among members.
Failure to synchronize leads to accidents like Lees, and this is why many coaches and players who are tossed sometimes show fear.
Shin said, I sometimes hear players talking about letting me fall to the ground. I get really scared at such a moment.
Kim Byeong-joon, a physical education professor at Inha University, said many players play practical jokes while tossing a player or coach. In so doing, whatever hard feelings that they had melt away, he said.
Despite the potential danger, the practice of tossing to celebrate a win remains strong in Korea and Japan. When the Japanese pro baseball team Hanshin Tigers won the Central League championship in 1985, excited fans tossed a Kentucky Fried Chicken mannequin resembling Randy Bass, who won the leagues batting Triple Crown, into a river.
Tossing is also not uncommon in Europe. In May last year, FC Barcelona players tossed their head coach Joseph Guardiola after winning the Champions League title.