Korea gets ready for London Olympics
Apr 19, 2012
As the 100-day countdown begins for the London Olympics 2012, Korean athletes are stepping up their training to get in shape, aiming at more than ten golds and a top-ten finish in medal contention.
The national host for the upcoming Olympics is special for Korean nationals, harkening back to when they hosted the 1948 Summer Games, the first time that Korea competed as an independent nation under the Korean flag after liberation in 1945.
The situation has changed much since then, although the passionate ardor and determined zeal the athletes possess remain steadfast. Back in 1948, the country sent a team of 67 people who traveled for days making several stopovers halfway around the world to compete, bringing home two bronze medals in weightlifting and boxing. Sixty years later, 370 athletes and coaching staff represented South Korea in Beijing 2008, ranking seventh and collecting a total of 31 medals including 13 golds. This year, the Korean government will set up an on-site training camp for the first time in the country’s Olympic participation history.
“Korea has grown into a sports powerhouse after having staged major international sports competitions including the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, the IAAF Championships, and the Formula One Grand Prix,” Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Choe Kwang-shik told reporters at an April 19 briefing on the comprehensive plan for participation at the London Olympics.
“The country has continuously reinforced its development assistance role in the domain of sports in a bid to realize the spirit of Olympism based on its transformation experience from an aid recipient to a donor country,” said Minister Choe while introducing the basic concept of “From London To London (1948~2012).” “We plan to run a program to share the knowhow on hosting international sports events to contribute to the development of the international sports world.”
While celebrating the Olympic action, Korea will host a number of entertainment events from June 2 to September 9, in light of the ever-growing interest shown toward K-pop and the UK’s enthusiasm leading to crave other Korean cultural content.
Throughout the summer, “All Eyes on Korea” will showcase Korea’s modern and traditional culture at multiple venues across the capital’s iconic artistic complex, the South Bank Centre (www.southbankcentre.co.uk), the Victoria & Albert Museum (www.vam.ac.uk), and the Korean Cultural Centre UK (http://london.korean-culture.org). The festival invites Londoners and Olympic travelers from all corners of the world to discover some of the best of what Korean culture has to offer.
The 100-day festival features everything from film screenings and contemporary artwork by Lee Bul and Kim Beom at the acclaimed Hayward Gallery, to a fashion show by Hanbok designer Lie Sang Bong accompanied by culinary delights of Korean cuisine.
South Bank Centre’s “Cultural Olympiad” will count soprano Jo Sumi, violinist Sarah Chang, pansori singer Lee Ja-ram, and poet Kim Hyesoon among the world-renowned Korean artists.
Earlier on April 18, President Lee Myung-bak paid a visit to Taereung National Village, the training center for the national Olympic athletes, to mark 100 days until the opening of the upcoming Olympic Games. The Korean leader met with members of the national team practicing disciplines such as badminton, handball, judo, wrestling, and boxing, and passed along words of encouragement.
“It is particularly meaningful for Korean nationals to see all of you excel once again at the monumental venue in Korea’s sports history, London, the host of the 1948 London Olympic Games,” said President Lee. “We will provide full-pledged support for improving training conditions and give a boost to your best performances.”
The Olympic Flame at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony will be ignited on July 27 and world athletes will participate in the weeks-long journey through August 12. The London 2012 Paralympic Games are also set to take place from August 29 to September 9. For more information, visit www.london2012.com.
By Hwang Dana
Korea.net Staff Writer
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