IOC member Yoo Seung-min, who led the Korean Athletes’ Commission to the highest ever competition, says he will “actively help Park In-bee win”
“Congratulations to Inbee Park. Let’s prepare well!”
IOC Member Yoo Seung-min (President of the Korea Table Tennis Association) shared his support on social media on Thursday, shortly after the Korean Olympic Committee voted to nominate Park In-bee as an IOC Athletes’ Commissioner. We caught up with IOC member Yoo Seung-min at her office in Gangnam, Seoul, on a summer day when the sports world’s attention and expectations were focused on the first female IOC member from South Korea.
In the summer of 2016, on the other side of the world in Rio de Janeiro, she was elected to the IOC in the second place overall. Olympians from all over the world recognized the Korean young man who walks 30,000 steps a day to spread the golden spirit. For the past seven years, he’s been running hard. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, he served as the head of the Athletes’ Village, taking care of young athletes from all over the world, became the first Asian athlete to be elected Vice President of the Athletes’ Commission, and was re-elected last year in Beijing with overwhelming support from the Athletes’ Commissioners. Upon her election to the IOC, she vowed to speak at every meeting. With the absolute trust of IOC President Thomas Bach, the Korean youth sports leader also took on the challenge of becoming an international sports administrator. He was elected President of the Korea Table Tennis Association and served on the Executive Board of the International Table Tennis Federation, successfully bidding for the Pyeongchang Asian Championships and the Busan World Championships. IOC Vice-President Sermiyang Ng (SINGAPORE) takes him under her wing like a father figure, and with her easy-going personality, she interacts with IOC members from around the world, breaking down the stereotype of the “silent” Asian.
The most significant change is the intense interest in IOC members from their fellow Korean Olympians. The IOC candidate selection process is now a big event that attracts the attention of the KOC, the athletic community, the media, and even the government and political sphere. Six legends of their respective sports – Park In-bee, Jin Jong-oh, Kim Yeon-kyung, Lee Dae-hoon, Kim So-young, and Oh Jin-hyuk – took up the challenge.
“The popularity of IOC Athletes’ Commissioners has increased, not only in Korea but around the world,” said Yoo. “I’ve been active for seven years, and there are so many things I do. Everything is decided in meetings, and the IOC respects the decisions of the Athletes’ Commission. The executive wants to be actively involved in the Athletes’ Commission and approves most of the proposals put forward by the Athletes’ Commission.” “In the future, if more athletes want to run for the IOC, a new procedure should be studied,” he added. “I think it would be good to have the national athletes vote at the Jincheon Athletes’ Village, interview the candidates and present them directly. I would like to propose a way to empower athletes and the Athletes’ Commission.”
“The best thing about being an IOC Athlete Commissioner is that I have the fastest access to information about athletes and can deal with them directly,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for quick information and experience, which is very different from reading the news, and I really enjoyed communicating our decisions to the Athletes’ Commission and the athletes.” “Being the vice chairman of the Athletes’ Commission has also allowed me to interact with my colleagues as chairman and vice chairman, which has improved my ability to react and solve problems quickly.”
Seven years ago, he was a one-man band. He had no helpers. He won a miraculous election with nothing but his heart and his own two feet, with the help of sponsorships and support from his friends and family. But he is ready and willing to share his experience and know-how with the next Korean Athletes’ Commission candidate. “Some candidates came to me for advice. I gave them advice, but remained completely neutral. I also declined to be a member of the evaluation committee. As an active IOC member, I decided it was not appropriate for me to intervene in such an important interview process,” he said. “However, I promised to support the finalists unconditionally and to the best of my ability.” “In fact, the in-country interviews are pointless. It’s all about how we prepare for the rest of the year, the Games and the elections. I will immediately start a program to help the Athletes’ Commissioner candidate,” he said. “The atmosphere is better than when I ran, and the capacity is better. Now we need the whole sport to come together and be a team. I must be elected. I want to play a role together with the International Affairs Department of the Korean Sports Federation, and we will run together. I think this is my last commitment as an IOC Athlete Commissioner for sports diplomacy in Korea.”
“The IOC’s recent keynotes have favored women,” Yoo said shortly after “golf queen” Inbee Park was named a de facto finalist. “We had a precedent at the 2016 Rio Olympics when President Bach nominated Sarah Walker, who was fifth, after the first four were elected. There are four elected members, but Mr. Bach can appoint one additional member as an appointee. China’s Zhang Hong (Ice) is also an appointee. All of them are women,” he explained.
“You have to be ‘outgoing’ during the election and afterwards. You have to be proactive. You have very little time to sell yourself on the campaign trail. You have to be able to compete with your heart and soul in a short period of time.” “In the case of Inbee Park, it will be much easier for her to adapt and express herself because she is fluent in English. But you don’t have to be a ‘native’ English speaker. My English isn’t perfect either, but I’ve never been excluded for lack of English in seven years. It’s all about positivity and attitude,” she said. “Coming from an athletic background, of course you have the physical fitness, but it’s the ‘meeting fitness’ that counts. You need to study hard, and you also need to be able to understand and adapt to many issues on the fly.”
When asked about the intense debate over whether Asian athletes, women athletes, medal count, and golfers are favored or disfavored, Yu laughed. “Nobody knows until they open the lid. The voters are the athletes on the field around the world. They don’t know how many times you’ve been to the Olympics or if you’ve won a gold medal. You might have to keep it simple. “NBA star” Pau Gasol was voted number one in Tokyo without winning a single gold medal. At the end of the day, it’s a popularity contest. The athlete’s career is important, but you have to be attractive, and you have to show your face up close and personal.”
He emphasized the basics of being an IOC Athlete Commissioner. “As an IOC member, I was also the president of the Korea Table Tennis Association and the chairman of the PyeongChang Memorial Foundation, and I was often invited as a guest of honor, so it must have looked like I was shining. It may seem glamorous at first glance, but being an IOC Athlete Commissioner is actually an unpaid volunteer position,” he said. “I don’t want younger athletes to be inspired by the glitz and glamor. Of course there is a sense of accomplishment when you get things done, the networking rewards of interacting with sports administrators from around the world, and the joy of being recognized. But at the heart of it all is the sense of duty to serve the athletes.”
Yoo vowed to keep the “beauty of the sport” for the rest of the year. “As an athlete, finishing is very important. I’m thinking about how to end my IOC Presidency in a meaningful way,” he said. “As the president of the Korea Table Tennis Association, I will focus on finishing the PyeongChang Asian Championships in September and the World Table Tennis Championships in Busan next year, and as the chairman of the PyeongChang Memorial Foundation, I will focus on how to successfully host the Gangwon Youth Winter Games (Gangwon 2024) next year and develop the legacy of PyeongChang,” he said. “If Gangwon 2024 goes well, 99% of the job is done. After that, my mission is to share the valuable experience I’ve gained over the past eight years with the next generation of athletes. There are so many young talents that I want to work with. I am preparing a structure for them, a ‘sports diplomacy’ startup, and a foundation that will be a place of love for athletes.”메이저사이트
“I don’t have any regrets or regrets,” he says of the past seven years of dedication. “I did a lot of activities really hard, diligently, and without regret. Now, I just hope that I can pass on what I have learned and gained to the junior athletes, such as professional Park In-bee, so that the athlete-centered policies can be continued,” he smiles.