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New Generation of Korean Athletes

Posted February. 18, 2010 08:21,   


Foreign reporters say the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics is a festival for Korea. Global media have expressed surprise and praise for the Korean national team, which has won the gold in both the men’s and women’s 500-meter speed skating events. Men’s winner Mo Tae-bum and women’s champion Lee Sang-hwa are both 21. These two youngsters have raised their country’s international reputation and imbued a sense of hope in Koreans.

Lee beat world-record holder Jenny Wolf of Germany in the final by five hundredths of a second. The time difference is the distance gap between skate blades. The fates of the two women were determined in the blink of an eye. In the merciless competition for victory, the struggle by athletes to stay one step ahead in and of itself is an art that touches everyone and reflects the integration of cutting-edge sports technology. Nobody dares to say competition undermines heart. Mo and Lee have demonstrated that endless challenges and competition expand individual potential and is an engine for human development.

Korea’s speed skating success owes much to the growth of the country’s national power and the physical strength of Korean athletes. In short track, strategy is as important as individual ability since medals go to those who cross the finish line first. In contrast, the winners in speed skating are those with the fastest times. So speed skaters compete against themselves. Lee has trained with male skaters. By raising fortitude and enduring harsh training, Mo and Lee have broken a barrier erected by athletes from advanced economies. They have made Koreans proud.

Thorough competition analysis and scientific training are also key factors behind their success. The speed skating team went to Calgary and Vancouver early to adjust to and analyze the new environment, including the quality of the ice rink at the competition venue. Experts honed skate blades to match the quality and temperature of ice on the rink. These efforts helped Korean skaters to adjust to the rink, which foreign skaters called the “worst.”

The success of Mo and Lee shows Korean youths are not weak. The two skaters are different from athletes from prior generations who had no choice but to pursue sports for financial reasons. Korea’s new generation has set a path through its own initiative and is pursuing its dreams diligently. World figure skating champion Kim Yu-na as a child considered Michelle Kwan her role model, yet has surpassed her idol through tireless efforts. Korean medal winners in Vancouver are in a similar situation as those from prior generations who failed to exhibit their abilities due to pressure to win medals. Young athletes maximize their potential by making the most of competitive tension.

Hopefully, Korea’s surprisingly strong showing in Vancouver will help Pyeongchang’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.