Fencing and rhythmic gymnastics have ridden a wave of renewed public interest over the 2012 Olympics. And behind the great work of those athletes, there were coaches who shared blood, sweat and tears with them. Shim Jae-sung is a Korean national fencing coach who furiously launched an appeal after the controversial loss of his fencer Shin A-lam and Lee Kyung-hee is the first defector to coach a South Korean national gymnastics team.
Coach Shim first got into fencing when he was in middle school. He was a fencer under spotlight and took first place in several national fencing competitions that he went in. But despite that, he was determined to study French Literature in college: fencing and French seem to be two completely different fields of study and they are indeed, however, they are related in a way that all the fencing terms are derived from French and many books on fencing were written in French back in the days. So Shim studied French literature to learn more about fencing, then he went to France to further his study and became the first Korean fencing coach who studied abroad.
Coach Lee started rhythmic gymnastics when she was in elementary school. She has the highest recorded score for rhythmic gymnastics in North Korea and won the highest number of international awards in Asia till these days. However, unlike the story of people on top, she wasn’t born to be good or an excelling student. She was the lowest ranked gymnast for years, but she continued to build up her skills over a period of ten years, started taking first place in many national and international competitions and became a prominent figure in rhythmic gymnastics.
On Heart to Heart, we’ve invited Coach Shim Jae-sung and Coach Lee Kyung-hee to talk about the behind stories of the Olympics, their experiences, life stories and passion for fencing and rhythmic gymnastics.