8. When I Was Attending University (1982-1985)
During my third year at high school I was the number 1 badminton player across all high schools in Korea. I decided to go to the Korean National University of Physical Education.
This university was established by the Korean government in 1981 with the intention to produce world class players. It had a four year curriculum and each year there were 120 students enrolled. There were no university fees and all of the students lived on campus free of charge.
All of the training equipment was provided and all of the costs for participating in completions were also covered, in addition to Summer and Winter Training Camps. Furthermore, when the students graduated after 4 years, they were given a PE teacher qualification. So during 4 years, no fees to pay, all the training and equipment, travelling costs, etc., covered and PE teacher qualification at the end. It has all changed now. Students from all sports were selected such as boxing, swimming, diving, track field, gymnastics, shooting, skating badminton and so on from more than 25 sports.
Training was 6 days per week from Monday to Saturday. From Monday to Friday, all of the students had to get up at 6am and train for 1 hour, or 1 hour 30 minutes. Breakfast was then provided. From 9am-12:30pm, all the students attended academic classes. Lunch was then provided. All of the students attended their own specific sports training from 2:30pm-5:30pm. Dinner was then provided. All of the students attended a daily checking session at 10pm. Bedtime was around 10:30pm.
On Saturdays, we got up at 6am, training for 1 hour or more. From 10am till 12:30pm students were doing their own specific sports training. After lunch, students could leave the university campus and visit their home, parents, friends and so on. So from 1pm on Saturdays until 9pm on Sundays, students were free. All of the students had to be back at the accommodation by 9pm on Sundays. There was a counting session at 9pm to make sure everyone was back. I followed this university timetable for 4 years.
In terms of my badminton training, it was not better than my first and second year of high school. I won all three Korean national titles: singles, doubles and mixed doubles, during the four years that I attended the university.
When I was in high school, I had a very clear reason for training badminton, but when I was at university, I lost my reasons, especially when I won the titles. Korean badminton was not known outside Korea during this time.
All the training I did in high school enabled me to win the titles, not the training I did at university. All of my beliefs and coaching philosophy developed from the training in high school. I can say that the two years of my badminton training in high school were the most valuable time in my life by far. Every minute during that time was a golden time and no minute was wasted. If I gave a mark of 10/10 for the two years in high school, I would give a mark of 4/10 for the time I was at university. I can say that the two years of high school badminton training made me who I am.
I can say that during my time at university, I lost interest in badminton training. Because I did not have any reason, any target, any purpose or desire to achieve something more in badminton.
I developed more on coaching skills during this time. I was captain of the badminton team. There was a Badminton Professor who was in charge of the team but most of the daily sessions were planned and carried out by myself. I studied and learned how to lead a team, how to motivate team members, how to look after them and how to take responsibility. Being in charge of the team, leading the team, motivating them and taking responsibility were a good match for my personality.
I had a very different university life compared to other people in a normal university. During the four years of my attendance, I had to get up at 6am from Monday to Saturday. I had to train 5 hours every day from Monday to Saturday for the full four years.
The difference was that when I was in high school, it was my choice to get up at 5am to train 5 hours every day, and most importantly I had a crystal clear reason WHY I was doing it. But when I was at university, I had to do it, and I did not have a reason for it.
During these four years, I was lazy, wasting my life time and living without reason. I drank alcohol often and I wasted so much valuable time of my life. I really regret the way I spent the four years at university. I do not have many happy and proud moments and memories from those four years. It was like I was sailing my boat in the ocean without any direction to go.