Daegu National Sports Festival Weekend Highlights
After the elaborate opening ceremonies with a much anticipated performance by PSY performing "Gangnam Style" Daegu City was proud to host the one week long National Sports Festival. This was a week long sports championship featuring an array of sports and athletics ranging from baseball, tennis, swimming, judo, fencing, archery, rowing, cycling, horse riding, and many others.
There were actually 45 different events taking place in 68 venues across the city and suburbs. Even more amazing was that all events were completely free. Imagine holding the Olympics and making it completely free. This was an opportunity to see a vast array of traditional and non traditional sporting events right on our doorstep.
Saturday morning a friend and I headed over to Kyunpook University to see the Rhythmic Gymnastics. Scheduled to perform was Olympic Gymnast Son Yeon Jae who was just part of the Olympic team for London 2012 and also performed in the opening ceremonies of the National Sports Festival.
The event was divided into different rounds. The first round was set of gymnastics using a hoop, the second set involved a ball, the third were with juggling sticks, while the final more elaborate was with a swirling ribbon.
In each heat competitors would perform various routines to their chosen music while tossing their instrument high into the air and catching it again from another position after another quick gymnastic movement.
A couple of times they were unfortunate to stumble or miss but were quick to recover their posture and continue their routine.
The gymnastics set ended at 12pm for a two hour break and I went next to EXCO which was hosting Wrestling and Weightlifting. Unfortunately, when I arrived they were also on break till 2pm so it was a long wait for the events to start up again. I also wanted to make it to Duryu Pool for swimming before they ended at 4pm so I wouldn’t have long to stay at EXCO to watch the afternoons events.
By 1:30pm the weightlifting had started. It was a quite a slow process as each lifter would come and have a three minute clock in which to make their three attempts to lift.
They were already at about 150kg by the time I arrived and most were unable to lift and dropped the weights part way.
In the adjacent hall at the EXCO the wrestling was scheduled to begin at 2pm. The hall had four wrestling rings in which each would have a pair of wrestlers compete in their bout. Many of the wrestlers were also in the stands having already competed or waiting their turn.
Due to time I had to leave after 20 mins to make it to Duryu pool before 4pm which is an hour away by bus.
By about 3:30 I was able to make it to Duryu pool on the other side of the city. I was in time to watch the final swimming heats for men’s and women’s.
First was the men’s final followed by the women’s. There was a long camera track along one side of the pool where the TV crews would pan across the pool during the race. I was able to go into the reserved media area and had a close up view of the starting launch and finish.
Women’s Solo Diving & Men’s Synchronized Diving
As the swimming had ended at 4pm I went to the adjacent diving building to watch the diving events scheduled to continue till 5:30pm.
First up was the women’s solo diving, followed by the much more interesting men’s synchronized diving. There were four different diving boards and it was quite rapid fire as sets of divers would alternate from two boards and keep launching themselves in rapid succession.
There was a variety of diving styles from front dive, back dive, and upside down dive. It was quite interesting and commendable for their dedication in achieving such a difficult feat. I know there is a technical criteria for scoring but as a novice I wasn't able to distinguish between the sets of divers.
Once the diving had ended at 5:30 I noticed back in the swimming hall they were setting up for the evenings water polo matches. I would have liked to have stayed but needed to be downtown for the evenings Colourful Daegu Parade.
After a busy day Saturday at five events and an evening parade downtown I was still kept busy Sunday as there were more events taking place in my local neighbourhood.
Nearby at the Daegu Health College they were hosting Judo and Bodybuilding. This is only a ten minute bike ride for me so I went along not knowing what to expect.
Similar to yesterdays wrestling, they had multiple match areas set up where simultaneous bouts would take place. They seemed quite junior at the middle school level and there were many families there for support.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend being able to watch such a variety of sports. There are many more I wanted to watch, particularly equestrian and archery events, but due to time and locations being scattered across the city it wasn’t very practical unless you had a car.
I wasn’t able to watch any of the weekday events which mostly ended by 4pm and were again all over the city. This was a great event Daegu was able to host and another addition to the city's busy social calendar.