An Olympian performanceWell done, Korean athletes! In the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, which ended on Aug. 24, we ranked seventh in the medal count with 13 gold medals.
This was Korea’s best Olympic haul ever, securing a priceless gold medal in swimming — a first for Asia — even though Korea has long been considered a barren ground for swimming.
Not only that, the Korean baseball team beat the world’s strongest amateur team, Cuba, plus the teams from the United States and Japan.
And female weightlifter Jang Mi-ran grabbed the gold, setting five world records in a day.
Sports make people feel good, giving them hope and lasting satisfaction.
On the first day, Choi Min-ho threw all of his opponents to win the men’s 60-kilogram judo division in a few seconds to win Korea’s first Olympic gold medal in Beijing.
We were delighted to see Asia’s top swimmer Park Tae-hwan’s smile and Lee Yong-dae’s wink when winning mixed doubles badminton tournament.
Gold is not everything. Nam Hyun-hee, who won the first ever women’s silver medal in fencing for Korea, was the epitome of enthusiasm. All of us felt moved to see Korea’s women’s handball team’s fighting spirit.
Sport raises the value of the national brand in the international community. The Olympics are seen by 94 percent of the world’s population. Which country won the most medals? China finished on top in terms of gold medals, having concentrated its energies on systematically supporting its athletes.
The United States, Great Britain, Germany and Australia won many medals. These countries aim to boost social athletics and try to provide ample social support.
However, Korean athletes lack a sound foundation of social athletics, and the government does not provide the support that athletes here need. Korea’s Olympic performance this year was due to the good spirit of our sportsmen and sportswomen.
But most Koreans are unfamiliar with some of the sports that Korea did well in, except for baseball, football and basketball.
So in order to continue to have a good record in the Olympics, it is imperative that we promote elite athletics supported by the government.
More importantly, we need to bolster social athletics and expand the base of sports in this country, with a view to caring for the health of the public and doing well in London four years from now.