A South Korean former athlete and local sports body executive has been named by a global federation of canoe organizations to lead diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity for women.
Park Gi-young, vice president of South Korea’s Woman’s Sports Association, was tapped by International Canoe Federation President Thomas Konietzko as the chairman of the Lausanne-based organization’s diversity and inclusion committee as well as the person in charge of the body’s women’s conference. Konietzko visited Seoul in October last year to attend the general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
“It is an honor to serve as chairman of ICF’s diversity and inclusion committee and to promote equal opportunity for all in not just canoeing, but in all sports as vice president of WSA,” Park told The Korea Herald on Tuesday.
“My goal is to make sports available for everyone including the up-and-coming generations,” she added.
Park, a former synchronized swimmer who is pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, expressed hope that her new role would ultimately contribute to inter-Korean ties.
“Whenever inter-Korean relations remained frozen, the role of sports was crucial in the past in thawing the ties,” Park said.
“Inter-Korean cooperation in sports has always had a positive effect on smoothing out the dialogue between the two Koreas. We feel a strong connection in cheering for each other even when we’re not always in the same team.”
Park highlighted the act of drawing up and carrying out policies that could support inter-Korean and world peace and lift the socially vulnerable as a key role of the diversity and inclusion committee.
“It’s a task worth taking on. I’ll do my best to uphold its values.”
Park is one of South Korea’s first synchronized swimmers and has served as a judge for the International Swimming Federation and a technical adviser for the Asia Swimming Federation since 2017.
She was recognized by the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee as “best judge” in 2019 and received a lifetime achievement award from the Korea Woman Sports Award last year.
She earned her bachelors in kinesiology and sports studies from Ewha Womans University and a masters in political science and international studies from Yonsei University.