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
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
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
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.
"The aftermath of such a decision is not limited to just one single
university. It can shake the entire foundation of South Korea's
gymnastics and adversely affect our effort to spot and attract
talented gymnasts like Yang," said Kim Dong-min, vice president of
"Gymnastics has been like a good son earning medals at international
competitions but largely underappreciated."
South Korea have won nine Olympic medals at gymnastics, two at
baseball, one in soccer, volleyball and basketball and none at ice
hockey in the Winter Games.
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Yang has been the catalyst for the sport's increased profile at
home after he became the first Korean gymnast to win Olympic
gold when he took the vault title in London which earned him the
nickname "God of Vault."
He followed up that success by defending his world championship
title in Belgium in August, however, he and the sport continue
to trail soccer and baseball in the popularity stakes.
Hanyang University denied the decision to drop gymnastics was
based on such factors.
"It is a total misunderstanding," a university official said.
"We are shutting down gymnastics not because it gets less media
attention and thus not very helpful in promoting the school's
name but because it is an individual sport.
"It makes the whole restructuring process a lot easier (than
A former pupil, who graduated from the school in the late 1990s
and is currently teaching the sport at several universities,
said the decision was wrong.
"It is just outrageous the university decided to discard
gymnastics just because it is not as popular as soccer or
basketball... and without consent from the students and
parents," he said on condition of anonymity.
"The school keeps saying it has been pouring 5 billion won
($4.75 million) per year on the sports teams and that it is too
big of a burden in the midst of pressure to cut tuition fees and
reduce the class size.
"But I was shocked a few days ago to see the current students
still using the exactly same equipment I used almost two decades
ago. Nothing has changed."
(Reporting by Narae Kim; editing by Patrick Johnston)
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