I cannot say that I have seen a stadium more majestic or amazing than what we saw last week. The experience we had at the 1988 Olympic facilities, was nothing short of amazing. I am excited to share thoughts from Courtney Gold, a Sport Management major. Her story is touching and I hope you are moved by it and that she conveys to you how powerful of an experience this was for us. Following Courtney is a piece from Derick Margerum regarding the same venue. He mentions how we were even allowed to run on the olympic track! Enjoy this post from Courtney and Derick.
After being in Korea for almost two weeks now I am slowly beginning to adjust to the culture, food and weather. Being a picky eater, I am proud to say that I have tried foods I would not have tried in the states. Besides trying new food I have had the privilege to visit places that I would have never had imagined. I have been able to see places such as the 1988 Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park, Olympic Memorial Museum, and the Korean Olympic Training Center.
On Tuesday July 1, 2014 the group made the trip out to the 1988 Olympic Stadium. Now this was something I was excited to see due to the history of Korea and their efforts to inspire their country after years of economic tragedy. After South Korea was annexed from Japan in 1910, they were left in economic ruins. The Korean people were hungry and looked upon as a hopeless country. When they were granted the 1988 Olympics in 1980, there was a sense of hope. Walking up to the stadium I tried to picture what it would be like when the stadium was being built. I then tried to feel the emotion of those who were able to actually experience the moment of the opening ceremonies. The excitement and joy of the Korean people must have gone beyond leaps and bonds. Beyond the actual emotions of the people it must have been an amazing sight to see what the country of Korea could do when given the opportunity to host the 1988 Olympics. Seeing the outside of the stadium I was impressed to see how advanced South Korea was in their architecture. It was also interesting to see the effort that was made and the money spent to make this event a success. In the states we see more focus on professional sport athletes, rather than amateur athletes. Once we were able to enter the Olympic Stadium I could not believe how big it was on the inside. Just imagining the opening ceremony and the screaming fans in the seats of the stadium is an unreal experience. Below I was able to take a step back and capture the inside of the Olympic Stadium and get the chance to go onto the track and field. Having this opportunity is one of many that I will receive on this trip that I will never be able to forget about it.
Now moving on, July 2, 2014 was the day the group made the trip out to the Korean Olympic Training Facility. This was a moment to remember because this training facility is not open to the public. Knowing this I did my best to soak in all the amazing things I was about to see. One of the first places we went into was the athlete’s training room. I have been in gyms before, which many of us have, but nothing like the one we were about to see. It was huge, offering the best equipment to all the Korean athletes who had the opportunity to train in this facility. A few of us then saw some climbing ropes and thought we would give it a shot and see how high we could climb up.
Needless to say I personally did not do that well. It was definitely a funny experience because I realized that it was more difficult than I imagined. It gave the others and myself in the group a good laugh and something we can remember upon our return home. Most of the buildings we went into were empty because the majority of the athletes were on their break, but we than walked in on a women’s handball practice.
Before walking in we were told to be quiet because there was a practice going on. I did not think we were going to see any athletes training, so seeing this was a great treat. As mentioned prior I noticed that there were some differences in the way the United States conducted sport from Korea. Korea definitely took more time, money and effort in making their amateur athletes a success in not only the Olympics, but the Asian games as well. This particular day I felt extremely special because many people will never be able to experience what I had that day. I saw actual amateur athletes in training and the facilities that made them a success. I will never forget what I was offered and could never express enough gratitude to those who made this trip to the Olympic Training Facility possible.
Just in the short week and a half that I have been in South Korea I have had the opportunity to see and do things that many could never dream of. As the days and weeks progress I will further report on the many new experiences. I am beyond grateful that I was able to go on this trip to see and experience things with the group of people that are here with me! Without them, this trip would not be the same and I would not have gained the memories I have received thus far. Go Cougs!
Now from Derick Margerum, Sport Management major.
Happy 4th of July from Seoul, South Korea! We have been in Seoul for almost ten days now and this experience has been a blast so far. What I like about Seoul is that there are always things to do whether its visiting historical sites, stadiums, and markets you name it and this city probably has it.
During the first couple weeks of the trip I got really got to see what Seoul is all about. I am somewhat of a picky eater, but coming into this trip I knew I was going to have to expand my horizons and try new food. For example, on one of the first few days eating in the cafeteria we had squid for breakfast! This shocked me because I don’t like seafood and I was sure they wouldn’t have it for breakfast, but it actually was not that bad. Squid for breakfast was just another unique food that was offered here in this culture, so I had to be prepared on what food came at me next. Many of the adventures led to us exploring the vast array of street markets that sold a variety of things from food to jewelry, and we even enjoyed some fun at Lotte world amusement park.
The main reason why I wanted to come over here was to experience the sports culture, and explore the many stadiums and facilities that Seoul has. On Tuesday we visited the Olympic Stadium site as well as the park. The Olympic Stadium was a majestic beauty right in the heart of the city. It was a little run down but it was very similar in look to the Los Angeles Coliseum, and spewed great Olympic history. Carl Lewis raced at the Olympic Stadium where he won gold in the 100 meters and long jump in 1988 (Sports Reference, 2014). We were fortunate enough to enter the stadium, and just the thought of being inside a stadium where the greatest athletes in the participated was a surreal experience. The group decided it would be awesome to run a lap around the track, and I did my best Carl Lewis imprecation when I finished. Inside the Olympic Park there is a museum adjacent to the stadium that contains historical artifacts from all the Olympics and that was really interesting. It was really awesome to go to an Olympic site for the first time to learn and experience what it was like back in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
I have learned a lot about South Korea in the week and half we have been here. I hope to gain better insight about sport and culture in Korea, and I am excited for the upcoming opportunities in the next few weeks.
More to come!