It’s back to basics after Berlin

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It’s back to basics after Berlin

The World Championship in Athletics held in Berlin, which ended on Sunday, left us a great deal of work to do. What concerns us the most is how Daegu is going to manage to host the same competition in 2011.

The dismal results from Korean athletes worries us greatly. One can always win or lose in athletic races, and careers have ups and downs, too. But the Korean team’s performances do not originate from temporary misfortunes but from structural problems, which is why the situation is so serious.

We are not criticizing the Korean team for failing to produce athletes like Usain Bolt from Jamaica. Athletes from Japan and China, whose people have similar physical features to Koreans, won medals in both the female and male marathons, but Korea’s entire team failed in the preliminaries. That indicates there is something fundamentally wrong.

Running, jumping and throwing belong to the most basic category of human activity. The thrilling charm of athletic competitions is in this very fact.

That is why performances in athletic races can be considered criteria for gauging the nation’s physical condition, unlike other categories of sports.

According to expert diagnoses, Korea’s athletics started breaking down upon the abolition of mandatory physical strength tests for middle and high school students in 1994. Although middle and high schools offer physical education, students tend to ignore the subject, as other keys are more crucial for getting into universities.

Research by the Culture Ministry on national physical strength also shows the average time of elementary students in a 1-kilometer (.62-mile) running race increased by 40 seconds from 1992 to 1997.

Korean elementary school students also fall behind their Japanese counterparts by one second in the 50-meter run. Although Korean kids are bigger than those in Japan and China, their physical power lags far behind.

The cause of the grim performances in the Berlin competition is apparent. Measures to revive the foundation of Korean athletics are urgently needed. We need to start all over again.
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