Goodbye, London Olympics

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Goodbye, London Olympics

The London Olympics are finally over after 16 days of heated competition. Athletes from around the world enthusiastically wrote an unscripted drama as audiences responded with joys of triumph and tears of defeat. Team Korea made a statement. News of their victories in the middle of sultry nights cooled down the inexorable heat waves hitting the peninsula and planted a sense of pride in our hearts.

The achievements of Team Korea are worthy of our praise. In 64 years after its first Olympic participation in London, Korea exceeded its original goal of 10 gold medals and a 10th-place finish in the rankings. In football, the team under the marvellous leadership of coach Hong Myung-bo snatched a bronze in a 2-0 match against Japan, while in fencing, the team miraculously obtained two gold, one silver and three bronze medals in a land crammed with fencing powerhouses. And Yang Hak-seon took a gold in vault for the first time in the history of Korean gymnastics.

We believe the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korean Olympic Committee contributed a lot to the remarkable results by helping athletes cultivate their skills by setting up training camps overseas, given that those sports, in particular, need massive national investment and an expanded base in the society. In this regard, London could serve as evidence that our athletes now compete with those from developed nations on an even ground.

Another noticeable aspect of the Games is worth noting: The citizens’ mature attitude toward athletes in London. In the past, they remembered moments of victory and the victors only. In a dramatic turnaround, however, they didn’t care for the color of the medals and were unsparing with their praise for athletes who failed to win. Athletes, too, did their best freed from the burden of the gold.

Son Yeon-jae, who finished fifth place in rhythmic gymnastics, said, “London is just a beginning.” We hope all our athletes remember her words. Without elevating overall performance of our athletes rather than relying on one superstar like Kim Yeon-kyoung in volleball, it is impossible to expect another spectacular result four years from now. Investment in unpopular sports is also urgent, not to mention the need to expand the overall sports base here. Our sports diplomacy, too, should be strengthened to deal with frequent bad calls during matches.

With the splendid sports gala over, we hope that our athletes repeat the exciting results in Rio de Janeiro four years later. Goodbye, London!
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