Monday, 22 February 2010

Korea and the Winter Olympics

Watching the Winter Olympics has been quite fun. I always enjoy watching top class sport and this competition has been pretty good, what I have had time to see that is. My access to some previous sporting events have been limited here in Korea. At times it has felt that unless it was football then Korean TV only seemed to show sports with Korean athletes - The Beijing Olympics being a case in point where events like archery dominated TV schedules.

This year though things have been different. I've been able to watch ski jumping, hockey, figure skating and even yesterday I watched curling. I'm very happy with this years coverage (SBS has three channels that show events, live or recorded). One dampener is Britain's perennially poor performance, or should it really be regarded as poor? At the time of writing Britain has 1 medal, a gold. That doesn't seem like a lot when you consider over sixty million live there. However Britain has only won nine gold medals in the history of the Winter Olympics, success shouldn't be expected.

I am comparing Britain with Korea, but lets be honest, Britain is cold but it is not a snowy place (normally). We have no big mountains and the Winter Olympics are a mere fascination. Winter events like skiing and skating are viewed as middle class pass times, not even real sports. The preserve of the rich - this is perhaps not so in Korea. As of today, Korea has nine medals including four golds and are almost certain to add to that. What a great achievement. Certainly Korea feels like it's punching above it's weight. It's good to see Korea doing well.

Watching some short track speed skating over the weekend Korea got a gold and a silver in one race. My wife was so happy to see her country doing well. Despite all this, my students still continue to show little interest in things unless Korea wins and rather than enjoying their wins took more satisfaction when Apollo Ohno didn't win something (Korea hates the skater Ohno). I hope one day they begin to appreciate it's the taking part that counts and enjoy watching the competition without rabid nationalism and enjoy the excellence, wherever it comes from.

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