South Korea emphasises being intellectual in sports, with taekwondo being an example they use ©Getty Images

Ahn Yong Gyu, the Chancellor for the Korea National Sports University (KNSU), shared his thoughts on empowering athletes through education, after a deal was signed with the University of Delhi to allow Indian taekwondo athletes to travel to the country for training.

The KNSU aims to empower athletes using sports education and to train their educators using various degree programmes, which saw 126 of their students become Olympic medallists.

"I learnt that sports are more than just a physical activity, it is a mental and spiritual learning experience," said Yong Gyu, who received a doctoral in holistic higher education, with taekwondo being his main focus as it requires discipline.

"This is the reason I also want to continue to focus on taekwondo, it is a martial art where the right attitude, right manner and discipline are more important than physical training.

"In taekwondo, there are many complex skills, for people who do not naturally have a lot of strength and physical power, through the skills and techniques they can overpower potential attackers to better defend themselves."

After a three-day taekwondo championship in New Delhi, winners in the tournament got the chance to visit KNSU, participating in a three-week programme.

India signed an agreement with South Korea to have taekwondo athletes attend a three-week training programme at the KNSU ©Getty Images
India signed an agreement with South Korea to have taekwondo athletes attend a three-week training programme at the KNSU ©Getty Images

Those selected for the trip are the 12 gold medallists from the All-India Inter SAI Taekwondo Championship.

Yong Gyu visited India as part of a 50-year anniversary celebration of the diplomatic ties between both countries, signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Miranda House, University of Delhi and CMR University.

“I was very impressed by the awareness that leaders here in India have about our institute (KNSU) and their interest in physical education on a higher education level," said Chancellor Yong Gyu.

Yong Gyu advised India to create an environment for intellectual sports education as he sees potential for the country in field hockey, badminton and archery.

"We focus on individual sports, not so much on group sports," said Yong Gyu.

"That is why we are looking at expanding field hockey and handball in our university.

"Once the standard of living starts to go up and people have more wealth, they develop more interest in physical education and sports.

"In Korea students who do well academically are also showing an increasing interest in studying sports. 

"I think a similar situation is happening in India."