|SBS swimming commentators Kim Soo-yeon and Bae Gi-wan pose ahead of the races. Photo provided by Kim Soo-yeon.
From Aug. 18 to Sept. 2, more than 11,000 athletes from panAsian countries gathered in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang to participate in the 18th Asian Games. Representing Korea were 779 competitors in 39 sports, ranging from archery to modern pentathlon.
Ewha students participated in the games as both athletes and commentators, brightening the prospects of Korean sports in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Bringing home three medals in shooting, Kim Min-jung, aged 21, is a junior in Human Movement Studies. She earned a silver medal in the mixed 10m air pistol event with Lee Dae-myung, the 30-yearold shooter from Gyeonggi-do. In her individual events, she earned a silver and a bronze. The 25m pistol event, in which she came in third, consisted of a two-stage tournament, where the athlete scoring the least in each stage is systematically eliminated. Kim scored 26 points by her 8th shot, and was a joint third with China, leading her to a shoot-off which gave her bronze. Her three medals in her first Asian Games is a meaningful step towards her second Olympics in Tokyo.
The shooter however, was not the only Ewha athlete at the Games. Kim Ji-ah, a sailor in her sophomore year of Human Movement Studies, scored seventh place in the ladies’ laser radial yacht event in her small one-man dingy yacht. Moreover Kim Sojin, a freshman also in the same department competed in the team synchronized swimming event, coming sixth overall out of ten participating teams.
As such, the Ewha Department of Human Movement Studies is home to many talented athletes. However, some such as Kim Soo-yeon, a senior student and a recently retired swimmer, are finding other ways to contribute to Korean professional sports.
A celebrated swimmer until last year, Kim Soo-yeon retired from swimming to give broadcasting a shot.
“I retired from swimming because I had a new goal in broadcasting,” she explained. “I tried out to becoming a swimming commentator. Frankly, I was surprised that I got selected and constantly asked whether I was really going to Jakarta. Also, since many of the swimmers who competed were my colleagues it felt very different.”
Kim Soo-yeon also shared her experience of being a studentathlete. She would go to midnight training sessions for two hours, come to school, do another few hours of afternoon training and go to morning training again. One of the things that she regretted time and time again was that she did not have time to socialize with her class members.
“In the past Asian game, female swimmers of my age were strong candidates for the gold medal. The broadcaster, Seoul Broadcaster System (SBS) was looking for someone who had been swimming until recently, and was of a similar age to the fellow swimmers,” Kim said. “Luckily, I fell under the conditions they were looking for.”
Her race commentary was broadcast live on SBS for most preliminary and final races with participating Korean swimmers. She prepared by doing several rehearsals, and tried to convey how rough the training could be for athletes. She mentioned that swimming is yet to become a popular sport, but is continually growing.
“I am part of our department club called Ewha Sports TV, broadcasted on on-school screens,” Kim said. “Although it is not hugely well-equipped, I got the minimal practice needed to look at the camera, or to enunciate clearly.”
Kim aspires to become one of few commentators turned swimmers, and is happy that she has another goal, unrelated to a professional swimming career. Surprisingly, many athletes have claimed that Ewha helped them most by not giving professional athletes different treatment. By imposing the same standards as other students, these athletes have been able to juggle their studies alongside their sporting career.