Unsung Olympic heroesAs his pupil Park Tae-hwan smiled broadly while stepping up to receive his gold medal, his coach, who was watching, couldn’t hold back his tears. That was the expression on Noh Min-sang, the Korean Olympic swimming team’s head coach, who referred to Park as his life’s dream. When he was a young swimmer, Noh didn’t even make it to the national team, let alone win a medal in the Olympics. However, he became an excellent coach by putting forth all his efforts while studying on his own using foreign books. For 12 years he has concentrated immensely on training the young Park, ever since their fateful encounter took place when the swimmer was only seven years old. The only thought in his mind was, “If I can’t do it, than my athlete will.” And finally that dream has come true.
With Park rewriting Korea’s swimming history by winning both gold and silver medals - and he still has the 1,500-meter freestyle to go - all kinds of praise is coming his way. The young man, who is not even 20, is certainly worthy of all compliments. He is competing with the world’s top athletes while overcoming enormous pressure.
But it was coach Noh who built up Park’s stamina to world-class level through systematic training over a long period of time. If it weren’t for the coach, who has put everything into the success of his student, Park Tae-hwan, the nation’s hero, wouldn’t have emerged.
Behind the achievement of the women’s archery team, which has now won the gold medal in six straight Olympics, was coach Moon Hyung-chul. He led the team even while delaying his treatment for cancer. After Moon was appointed coach he kept the fact that he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer to himself, fearing that the news would shake up his athletes, who had a big match coming up. Since his surgery in January this year, Moon has concentrated only on preparing for the Olympics while delaying treatment.
The women’s handball team coach, Im Yong-cheol, lost his father recently. However, Im kept busy, raising the morale of his athletes by declaring that the gold medal was theirs.
On the biggest of all stages, the Olympics, there are numerous coaches and staff behind the spotlight, silently doing their job well. It is they who are the hidden contributors to the wins that bring such joy to so many. They are the unsung heroes.
Let’s give a big round of applause for the dedication that they have given. It is because of you we are happy. Thank you.