Will Pakistan ever host the Olympic Games?

KBS WORLD

history

2015-11-24

The Pacific Coliseum sports arena was the venue for the figure skating competitions at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Kim Yuna from South Korea glided over the ice in her freestyle in a bright blue dress. Her graceful movements, self-confident demeanor and masterful performance captivated the audience. Kim floated as light as a feather over the ice and, unimpressed by the laws of gravity, showed an inimitable combination of triple lutz and triple toe loop. The audience rewarded this performance with deafening cheers. On that day, Kim Yuna did all of her seven jumps perfectly and in the end achieved 228.56 points, the highest number of points in the history of the women's individual competition. Her brilliant performance in Vancouver made her the queen of figure skating. With her incomparable jumping power and unforgettable artistic expression, Kim Yuna had more than deserved Korea's first gold medal in figure skating. The sound of the Korean national anthem on the ice rink made it clear how unique and significant this wonderful moment was in Korean sports history.

Korea's sporting life was almost wiped out during the Korean War. In 1963, the Jangchung Sports Hall in Seoul was built to promote indoor sports in Korea, and two years later, in 1965, the Taeneung Athletes Village, the training center for members of various national teams, opened its doors to promote top-class sports. During this time, Korean athletes began taking part in international competitions and playing with foreign teams. Hankyoreh daily sports journalist Kim Dong-hoon tells us more about the early years of Korean sport.

There was a baseball player named Baek In-cheon in 1962. When he was only 19 he went to Japan to play in the professional baseball league. He had already been a famous batsman while playing for his Kyungdong High School. After graduating from high school, he joined the Agricultural Bank, the predecessor of today's Nonghyup Bank, but only played there for a short time before moving to Japan as a player for 20 years.

The two most popular sports of the time, boxing and wrestling, brought great, exciting entertainment and comfort to Koreans. When Korean wrestling star Kim Il had a fight, the neighborhood comic book shops and tearooms overflowed with people wanting to watch the fight on television. As if to live up to the expectations of his fans, the professional wrestler won the world championship and made Korea known in the world. In boxing, Kang Se-Chul was the first Korean boxer to become Asian champion in 1960. His talented successor Kim Ki-soo stood on June 25, 1966 against the Italian Nino Benvenuti in the Jangchung sports hall in the ring. The Korean President was among the 6,500 spectators. The victory made Kim Ki-soo the junior middleweight champion of the WBA (World Boxing Association), he was Korea's first professional boxing world champion.

In the 1970s, Korean football made its way into international regions. The first football player in a foreign team was Korea's legendary striker Cha Bum-Kun, who played in the Bundesliga for Darmstadt 98, Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer 04 Leverkusen. From 1972, Cha became the youngest player in history to wear the jersey of the Korean national team and scored 55 goals in more than 127 games. He was also a top performer abroad, in the West German Bundesliga, bridging the gap between Korean football and the rest of the world. Here is sports journalist Kim Dong-hoon from Hankyoreh again.

Cha Bum-kun came to Germany in 1978. His performance was remarkable because the German professional league was one of the best football leagues in the world at the time. Cha played 308 games for more than 10 years and scored nearly 100 goals, roughly one every three games. He was popular with fans and journalists, who gave him the nickname "Tscha-Bumm".

The successful staging of the Asia Games in 1986 and the Summer Olympics in Seoul in 1988 paved the way for Korea to enter top international sport in the 1990s. Sports journalist Kim Dong-hoon explains it to us.

Many Korean athletes went abroad in the 1990s. There were two reasons for exporting athletes. Thanks to the solid sports education, Korean athletes became more and more productive. Korea came fourth in the medal table at the Olympic Games in Seoul. The level of athletic performance in Korea experienced a surge in growth in the late 1980s and 1990s. The second reason was that since the 1990s, trips abroad could be carried out without restrictions. This meant that athletes could play for foreign teams or train abroad without clashing with travel restrictions. This was also noticeable in international sports traffic. There used to be a number of restrictions when Korean players left the country to compete internationally, but now they were free to travel abroad and learn from their foreign counterparts.

In the 1990s, Korea became a leader in short track ice skating. The boom began with the overall victory of skater Lee Joon-ho at the Short Track World Championships in Amsterdam on March 19, 1990. From the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Korean short track ice skaters won a total of 42 medals, including 21 gold medals. At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, ​​marathon runner Hwang Young-jo crossed the finish line first, and Lee Eun-Chul and Yeo Gap-soon won gold medals in shooting. Korea became world class in more and more sports, and a number of talented athletes made a name for themselves internationally in various fields in the 1990s.

But the two most prominent athletes were none other than baseball star Park Chan-ho and professional golfer Pak Se-ri, who brought Koreans great joy during the 1998 financial crisis. Bowler Park joined the LA Dodgers in 1994 and became the first Korean baseball player in MLB (Major League Baseball) in America. In 2010, Park was named the MLB's Most Successful Asian Thrower. The golfer Pak Se-ri had left for the United States around the same time. She picked up her first win in US professional golf in her first season in 1998 when she won the McDonald’s LPGA Championship. Since then she has diligently garnered championship titles, including the US Women's Open a few weeks later, and was finally inducted into the LPGA World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007. Sports journalist Kim Dong-hoon tells us more about Pak Se-ri.

Your induction into the Golf Hall of Fame is truly remarkable. The Hall of Fame is reserved for the greatest players only. Since joining the LPGA Tour in 1998, Pak became the first Asian female golfer to win 25 titles. Only a handful of golfers of all nationalities have ever won 25 tournaments in the LPGA. She has earned her place in the Hall of Fame with her achievements.

Park Se-ri was just the beginning of a wave of Korean women golfers collecting LPGA titles. Korean players won five major championships in the 2015 LPGA Tour alone. The newest star golfer is Park In-bee, who won three majors in 2015 and thus reached a career grand slam. Football players like Huh Jung-moo, Kim Seong-joo and Hwang Sun-hong had followed in Tscha-Bumm's footsteps. Then came the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, which was a new trigger for the recruitment of top Korean footballers. The journalist Kim said:

The key players in the 2002 World Cup were hired by foreign clubs. Midfielder Park Ji-sung first moved to PSV Eindhoven and later to the English Premier League, to none other than Manchester United. He participated in more than 200 games and also played in the Champions League. He won many titles with Manchester United, making his stay in England a monumental milestone in Korean football history. It should be noted that fewer than 20 players at Manchester United have played more than 200 games at all. Park Ji-sung's accomplishments are therefore truly remarkable.

Known for his tireless physical fitness, his enthusiasm and his fair play, Park Ji-sung overcame the disadvantage of flat feet and small body size with steely mental strength. Actually an offensive player, Park also had excellent defensive skills, which led to the coining of the term "defensive winger" and advanced Korean football.

Nationwide attention then turned to Kim Yuna, who has set numerous records in women's figure skating since her debut in 2005. When most Koreans were unfamiliar with figure skating competitions, she already dreamed of becoming a world champion and trained relentlessly to make that dream come true. The journalist Kim explains:

Kim Yuna won the Four Continents Championships and the Grand Prix Final in Figure Skating in 2009. She was the first figure skater to win the Grand Slam of the four major competitions: the World Figure Skating Championships, the Four Continents Championships, the Grand Prix Final and the Winter Olympics. This is a very rare record as the Winter Olympics only happen once every four years, so it is very difficult for a figure skater to reach the Grand Slam. She scored a total of 207.71 points at the 2009 World Championships and was the first figure skater to score more than 200 points. I'm sure everyone knows by now that she set a world record at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with a total of 228.56 points, which is in the Guinness Book of Records and has not yet been broken.

After independence in 1945, Korea sent athletes to the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, but only to seven competitions. Since its inception as a sport developing country, the country has risen on par with the leading sporting nations around the world. Korean athletes have now left indelible marks on a wide range of sports such as soccer, figure skating, golf and rhythmic gymnastics. Here is sports journalist Kim Dong-hoon again.

Korea's sports history is very young, but it has made incredible strides in this very short time. The country grew exponentially along with its sporting life and public interest in sport. The full support of central and local authorities nurtured a lot of promising sporting talent. There aren't as many countries that win medals in such a wide range of events as Korea, with the exception of countries like the US and China that win more than 100 medals. Korean athletes win medals in ball games, martial arts, fencing, archery and much more, a clear sign of the increased reputation and extensive support for the sport in Korea.

Korea has hosted three of the four biggest sporting events so far: the Summer Olympics in 1988, the Soccer World Cup in 2002 and the World Athletics Championships in 2011. Now the country is preparing for the 23rd Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February 2018 to complete this special Grand Slam list as only the sixth country in the world.

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