"Asian countries must adapt to the new PSS era"
Interview with Mr Lee Dae Sun, President of the Asian Taekwondo Union (ATU)
Mr Lee Dae Sun is not only the President of the ATU. He’s also one of the Vice-Presidents of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), as well as the honorary President of the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation (TPF) and Chairman of the Korean Universitary Corporation.
President Lee received WTM at his office in Mappo (Seoul) last 26th of Decemeber to talk about the most highlighted Taekwondo topics of the year 2012. Before starting our interview, he signs the last Christmas greetings that he is going to send to the IOC members.
“If I contact them in a different moment, they would feel uncomfortable, but between Christmas and New Year’s Eve they can surely receive a letter and don’t take it as something inappropriate. Around 30 of them use to get back to me”.
President Lee has been doing these kind of things for many years. This is just a simple example of the great work he does to promote and help developing Taekwondo.
The year 2013 will be key for the future of Taekwondo. A future which is in hands of the IOC members. That’s why it is so important to keep a friendly relationship with them. As every Taekwondo family member should know, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will hold a meeting next February which is going to be key for the future of our sport as an olympic discipline.
“That’s right, between the 11th and 13th of February the Executive Board of the IOC will meet to decide part of Taekwondo’s Olympic future. At the end of year 2012, the Olympic Program Committee presented a report to the Executive Board, who have now to decide if their decision to exclude one of the current Olympic sports will be based on a particular analysis of each of them or, on the contrary, on an evaluation of the different types of sports. If they finally decide to take under consideration the type of Olympic sports, then this meeting will be definitely key for the Olympic future of our sport”.
– ¿Can we be optimistic ahead of this decision?
“The London 2012 Olympics were just impeccable and completely fair, that’s why all comments around the IOC decision are so optimistic and say there is no real danger for Taekwondo. The refereeing was clean and the spectators were enthusiastic. But we can’t be over-confident, because the other sports in danger of exclusion won’t just be twiddling their thumbs. I hope that no bad news related to Taekwondo come out until that meeting has been held. Other sports would take advanteage of any weird story”.
– ¿So what can we do to ensure Taekwondo won’t be excluded for the 2020 Olympics?
“The decision on Taekwondo’s Olympic future won’t be the only thing happening in 2013, the WTF will also celebrate its 40th anniversary, for instance. So I think this is the right moment for Taekwondo to make major steps forward. The IOC is currently promoting an initiative aimed to resolve the problems that most of youth people are experiencing nowadays: the Youth Olympic movement”.
“Obesity, drug addiction, suicide, violence… these problems can’t be solved only through the school education. To help solve them, Taekwondo has to focus not only on the competition within our sport but also on the training. We have to dedicate ourselves to the personal education of young people. Taekwondo is leading these kind of initiatives. The promotion of a healthy youth is one of the main values Taekwondo has to transmit in the future”.
Mr President, you were re-elected last April as president of the ATU. ¿What are your plans for the future of the organization you lead?
– In Asia we still have some areas in which Taekwondo hasn’t developed yet. We have been working for some years on trying to change this situation. As a result of this work, we will soon be able to inaugurate Taekwondo training centres in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. An example of this work is also the success that Nikpai has had in the last two Olympic Games. We have to realize how difficult it is to win two Olympic medals while training in a country in war, which is the case of Afghanistan”.
“Currently we can divide the ATU into 5 different areas. The east of Asia (Korea, China, Taiwan, etc.), the south-east (Vietnam, Thailand, etc.), the south-west (India, Indonesia, Pakistan, etc.), the Middle East countries (Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) and the central area (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc.). The east area is the one in which Taekwondo is more developed at the moment. However, we are trying to support the south of Asia, we are trying to make Taekwondo become more popular in the west area, and we are also working together with the governments of the countries of central Asia to promote Taekwondo there. They’ve showed a big interest in help us doing so. The south-west are is the one in which Taekwondo is less developed, that’s why we are working on different initiatives aimed to change this situation in that zone”.
– ¿What is the reason of the bad results that Asian countries have recently had in comparison with other continents?
“The main reason is the change that Taekwondo has experienced, we’ve entered a new era, the Protector and Scoring System (PSS) era. I think that our traditional training system won’t allow us to beat the European athletes, who have improved significantly from physical prospective. That’s why we have to re-educate our coaches and masters so that our fighters can adapt themselves to the new way of competition”.
– Asia recently faced Europe in a friendly Intercontinental Championship. ¿How do you assess Asia’s performance in this event?
“In the Olympic Games the European athletes showed an really high level of Taekwondo, that’s clear. Regarding the Intercontinental Championship, I must say that considering some of our most important countries, such as China and Korea, weren’t able to participate, I didn’t expect a great result. However, we managed to beat them. Despite of winning the Championship, I have to say that the result was not the most important thing in this event as it was a friendly Championship. We will keep playing this competition every year, and in 2013 we are going to hold it in China”.
President Lee will turn 80 years old in 2013. Despite his age, he keeps working actively and in a very enthusiastic way. But as everyone know, age and health always go together, and obligations such as the transoceanic flights are things that become more difficult to do as time goes by. Mr Lee expects that all the work that he and his companions of the ATU have done for the promotion of Taekwondo in the last years will be rewarded next September. Then, we’ll know if Taekwondo will still be part of the Olympic movement or not. If this objective is finally achieved, President Lee will be able to work with much more calm.
Sung jin Park
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