Host-nation Team Korea dreams big sporting hopes for Asia
With 100m Sprinters at 2014 Incheon Asian Games
South Korea as host of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon got international sports medicine expertise to safeguard results for their Team Korea and to recover their sporting stars ahead of the games. Our international expertise was contracted by KAAF as Sports Medical Specialist Consultant for Team Korea. Based in their national teams training centre in Seoul we supported their best athletes in the months prior to Asian Games, and followed on as Team Physiotherapist for South Korea’s Athletics Team for the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. Ensuring the injury recovery of their best athletes, including their 100m national record holder and sprinters that became Asian Games medalists.
Success came to South Korea, on the track, podium and in the rehab gym.
Journey with South Korea started working out of (& living at) various Team Korea national team's training centre's in Seoul, I had a unique experiences getting immersed within & understandings of Korea's sports system & long term athletic development & high performance structures. Here initially I was fortunate to have responsibilities for optimising the sports injury rehabilitation of many of Korea's top athletes bringing in modern western sports science, particularly track & field, to optimise the recovery from their respective injuries in a well structured & proven (Australian scientific) method ahead of what is Asia's sports key event - the Asian Games. Amazing for me to gain unique look into their differences in training methods, sports medical approaches, and interesting cultural beliefs around performance (read below) whilst working with Korean sports administrations, coaches & top athletes.
Korea's sports system structure & long-term athletic development approaches is similar to what I had seen in China; with it's sporting soft-power motivation, similar at the macro structural & policy level, & down to the micro athlete level training approaches as well. Similar to China their elite sports has strong government financial & policy support, with the highest "elite sports" funding reported out of all nations in 2011 ($423 million USD per a year), which has continued to increase 3-fold since 2006. Its structures is setup to ensure it supports & trains a large number of athletes from a young age at sports schools through the senior levels at state/city teams, sports universities and then Korea's Olympic national training centre. In comparative studies Korea ranks well & focuses on the same area's as China, in "Talent-ID & development", financial support, and coaching provisions. It however lacks on a coordinated & centralised structure, and integrated sports science & sports medicine methods, aka Australia's strength's. At the individual athletes levels there is a similar focus on high volume of training to build resilient athletes from a young age within Korea's
athletic development model - with report of on average coaches train Korean athletes 50 hours per a week. Korean athletes get a
sports medical &
rehabilitation for Korea's national teams in Seoul
Photos: Two at the athletic track, and two photo's with Korea's 100m National Record Holder (Kim Kuk-young) observing his mechanics & photo with him and along one of my very helpful Korean athlete translators.
Figures from SPLISS 2.0 International comparisons of sports policies studies, Bossier et al. (2017)
relative good salary, above Koreans citizens average salary. Korea also supports their athletes well post-career with life-long pension for medalists, or for athletes that retire due to injuries. The motivation for entering differs also with entry to sports schools aim for athlete scholarship entry into university, with a college sports system similar to USA & Japans. In Korea's some of the corporate enterprises, such as Samsung, also having their own institutes (eg. Samsung Sports Institutes) & elite athletic sporting programs employing athletes within a corporate structure.
A cocktail of politics & history creates a subsequent willingness to create a new strong Korean image & utilise this for their soft-power influence - similar to China's sporting program. The famous sporting image from Berlin 1936 Olympics of Korea's first Olympic Gold medalist (marathon runner Sohn Kee-Chung) standing on the podium clutching a young oak tree to his chest to cover the Japanese flag, & along with team mate (Bronze medalist Nam) bowing their heads in defiance during the anthem, depicts this well. Almost 50 years
later the IOC presented Sohn with the IOC's ancient Corinthian helmet from Olympia, Athens (circa BC 800-700), which is in the photo of me below at KAAF's Office along with Korea's High Performance Director Dr Kim PhD. Due to this, the Korean Athletics (Track & Field) program holds significance, and receives the second highest funding out of all sports programs in Korea
The journeys to a few athletic meets, and then to the 2014 Asian Games as Physiotherapist with Team Korea, was exciting journey on the road with these great Korean personalities and athletes. The end outcome was successful for us too, with a number of medals for men & women sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers, vaulters, and relays.
To read journey in other countries: Go back to My Story Page
TEAM KOREA's physio at 2014 asian games
we worked with
provided sports medical Education & courses for Korean
doctors & Physio's
Whilst in Korea, and on subsequent trips to Korea in years since; I have ran (and still do regularly run) a number of performance sports physiotherapy & sports rehabilitation courses & workshops for South Korea's sports medical staff from institutes, clinics & sports teams, in a effort to upskill and educated them in our Australian form of clinical reasoning & sports medicine.
Korea's sports medical system & beliefs is rather different particularly for physiotherapy, which requires a lot of assistance to improve its professions education, relative lack of
autonomy, & society acceptance and occupational standings. Helping Korea overcome these barriers within a 'medical dominance" model will require ensuring capabilities exist within Korean staff to challenge their status quo. Sports injury rehabilitation is developing fast in Korea with strong government support, and I strongly believe could have a bright future with the right guidance.