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with Kwon Hyouk Joung, Tae-kwon-do Coach, Nepal

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नेपालको हिमालबाट प्रेरणा लिने कोरियन प्रशिक्षक के भन्छन्‌?
"Nepalese mountains taught me something important in life that I have never learned anywhere."
-Kwon Hyouk Joung, Tae-kwon-do Coach, Nepal


Coach Kwon with Tae-kwon-do player Deepak Bista. Photos: Smita

"In Korea, national players who bring any kind of medals from international games are given enough money, good job, facilities and respect by the government and that doesn’t happen in Nepal."

"I love mountains. One of the reasons for coming to Nepal was because of Mountains. I really enjoy trekking and witnessing their majestic beauty that opens your heart.

These mountains in Nepal taught me something important in life that I have never learned anywhere. Like the hard (powerful) ice on them made from soft snow and then when it melts, it becomes the supple water. They have taught me to live my life with that kind of heart. I am very thankful to Nepal, Nepalese and mountains for teaching me that."

The former National Tae-kwon-do athlete of South Korea and now a coach for Nepalese Olympian Tae-kwon-do player Deepak Bista, Coach Kwon Hyouk Joung says he wishes to be the first coach to bring a medal for Nepal. A hard working of determination and pleasant personality, Kwon at 49 years of age feels it is a dream come true for any athlete or coach to participate in the Olympics.
 

Coach Kwon speaking with interpreter Yun Junhyuk

Kwon was a national Tae-kwon-do player when he was still in high school. He did his study in Tae-kwon-do in the Yongin University where he also worked as the chief coach from 1986. At that time he was only 26 year-old and since then he has been coaching players from different corners of the world.

Kwon has been coaching Bista since 2006 as the chief coach. Under his close watch and training, Bista and others have been winning medals from such International Games as South Asian Games and Asian Games. Bista is the only athlete to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. Therefore, Nepalese are watching closely and hoping for a record from him especially after his training under Kwon for many months for Beijing Olympics 2008.

Our Kathmandu correspondent Smita Magar talked to him last week. Read excerpt:

USNepalOnline: How are you looking at the Beijing Olympics?

Kwon:
The Olympics is the war without weapon. Countries show their power and supremacy through sports so the Olympics is a war done through sports. Here, different countries players will compete in their respective games for their countries’ honour.

As a coach, for me, Olympics is the aim, the target, to reach one day in a lifetime. To be able to participate in the Olympics is the most prestigious honour of all.

USNepalOnline: Which country do you think will walk with highest medals?

Kwon:
I think China will be the one to win the highest number of medals in this Olympics as China has been training very hard even before it was finalized that 2008 Olympics would be held in Beijing.

For China, winning the USA with weapons is impossible so its strategy is to win through sports. So yes, China has the greatest probability of scoring highest rank in this Olympics, as it is ready in everything.

USNepalOnline: How about Nepal’s performance at these Games? How do you think our players will perform?

Kwon:
I hope Nepal’s performance will be better overall. However, I can not tell about other games but I am confident about Tae-kwon-do. I am sure that Deepak will be at his best while competing.

Moreover, Deepak has done hard training in Korea for 4 months and had spiralled (fight one on one) with at least 200 other players so he has enough training and experience on different opponents. Now the only remaining thing is that he will not make any mistakes that will decrease his points during the game. In Tae-kwon-do, winning and losing depends on whether the player makes mistakes or not. Training is more or less similar everywhere.

USNepalOnline: What is your target in the Olympics, how confident are you on coming home with a medal?

Kwon:
Our target is to win and bring a medal from Olympic Games for the first time for Nepal. Apart from his (Deepak) physical training he is psychologically very aware of his duty towards his country and country people.

Therefore, I am confident we will win. If there is no target for the big thing, it is useless for me to coach and so it is for the athlete to compete.

USNepalOnline: What are the strategies you have planned for the game?

Kwon:
First, I have to get data on Deepak’s opponent and plan how to attack their weakness, but it may not always work as they might change their style. So, as we have three rounds, by the first round I will know the strongest and weakest points of our opponent and will direct Deepak time and again to get more points on game. Apart from that, Deepak has very strong punch so in the first round we will intimidate our opponent with it. Then as there will be hesitation from opponent’s side on attacking us we can get more points from second round.

USNepalOnline: What do you think are Deepak’s strongest points which will play a vital role in winning?

Kwon:
Deepak understands ‘motion’ or the movement of the opponent very well. That will help him know what the next move is going to be of his opponent and react on his part likewise. Another one is that he has this conscience, a confidence that gives him power to believe he can win. He does not like to lose so he is very hard-working, determined and with strong will power. Third thing I already mentioned. It is that his punch is very powerful which will not only put him at an advantage at receiving plus points but also prevent his opponents from attacking him easily.

USNepalOnline: What about his weaknesses? What do you think might put Deepak at a disadvantage compared to his opponents?

Kwon:
There is one thing that can put him at a disadvantage compared to his opponents. It is his age. His age is a bit more compared to his opponents. Due to this, his speed is a bit slow and his body’s stamina is not as strong as we would prefer to have at this moment to compete in the Olympics.

USNepalOnline: Now something about you; what made you to come Nepal as coach?

Kwon:
In 2006, Asia Tae-kwon-do Union (ATU) asked me if I was interested to go to Nepal for coaching. I had heard a lot about Nepal and the situation of the game so I took the offer.

ATU controls the Tae-kwon-do activities of Asia. Its objective is to balance the level of Tae-kwon-do in every country in Asia. They said Nepal was in a bad situation in the game. Therefore, I thought I will be helpful here, so I came to Nepal.

USNepalOnline: What did you find to be the situation of the game was when you came to Nepal?

Kwon:
We have a saying in Korea “Frog of a Well”. Like the saying, our Nepalese players such as Sangina Baidhya were very famous in local level but they did not have any recognition outside the country.

Player and coach were good but they did not have any experience at the international level and that was why people of other countries used to make fun of or patronize Nepali Tae-kwon-do players. But now the situation has changed. Nepal has put itself at the international level. Deepak’s level has reached that of the top players of the world, but he can reach even higher.

ATU is also saying that Nepal has reached the required level but I think we need to develop it even more.

USNepalOnline: What are the differences between South Korea and Nepal in terms of Tae-kwon-do and facilities provided to the players?

Kwon:
In Korea, national players who bring any kind of medals from international games are given enough money, good job, facilities and respect by the government and that doesn’t happen in Nepal.

If Nepali players did not have to ever think about money problems, job, necessary facilities and if they received respect and honour from their government and people as Korean players do, then they will also do very well as they will only need to concentrate on the game and play from their hearts.

USNepalOnline: What are the possibilities and challenges for Tae-kwon-do in Nepal?

Kwon:
Well, the thing is that if the challenges of Tae-kwon-do are reduced, then there is a very good future and possibilities for Nepal because Nepalese are very interested in the game and they have the talent for it.

For that, Nepal Tae-kwon-do Association should fully concentrate on the development of Tae-kwon-do rather than on their own personal benefits. If they only search for their benefits the development we are talking about will never happen. Here, the government also needs to play the important role.

USNepalOnline: Apart from Tae-kwon-do what does fascinate you in Nepal?

Kwon:
I love mountains. One of the reasons for coming to Nepal was because of Mountains. I really enjoy trekking and witnessing their majestic beauty that opens your heart.

These mountains in Nepal taught me something important in life that I have never learned anywhere. Like the hard (powerful) ice on them made from soft snow and then when it melts, it becomes the supple water. They have taught me to live my life with that kind of heart. I am very thankful to Nepal, Nepalese and mountains for teaching me that.

USNepalOnline: And last but not least, what are your plans after Olympics?

Kwon:
Right now my only focus is Beijing Olympics. Nepal has participated in Olympics before but has never been able to bring medals. My wish and concentration is to bring the first medal for Nepal.

I am focusing on Nepal and our game in the Olympics so I have not thought of anything about me or my plans afterwards as it is not the priority of the moment.

August 3, 2008, Kathmandu
   
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