'God of Vault' flips out after school drops his sport

Wed Dec 11, 2013 6:13am EST
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By Narae Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - Olympic champion Yang Hak-seon, who vaulted South Korea gymnastics into the limelight by winning gold at the 2012 London Games, has flipped out at plans by Hanyang University to disband its gymnastics team, fearing it could harm the sport's growth.

The university announced on Friday that it would drop gymnastics, judo and track and field from its sports teams in 2015 due to budget shortfalls and bribery scandals surrounding the selection of new students.

They will run only soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball and ice hockey teams leaving the 21-year-old Yang and officials of the sport aghast at the rejection.

"I have withstood physical pains from gymnastics but this decision breaks my heart so much," read a placard held by Yang in front of the school's main office on Monday.

"How would a senior in high school feel if he studied so hard only to find there is nowhere he can apply to? This is so grave an issue that I could not take a back seat," Yang told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.

Yang is leading a group of past and present gymnasts who have joined forces with the Korean Gymnastic Association (KGA) in a bid to stall the university's decision.

They have launched a nationwide petition to garner more attention from media and the public and will hold another rally at the school on Friday.

They will also have a private meeting with the school's president Lim Duck-ho in a bid to stop the submission of the planned changes to the government.   Continued...

Yang Hak Seon of South Korea celebrates winning a gold medal in the men's gymnastics vault final in the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake