How the ‘Garlic Women’ Overcame Abuse to Return to the Olympics

BEIJING – That was the thrilling story of the 2018 Winter Olympics: younger ladies from a distant rural space introduced Korea to glory by profitable its first Olympic medal within the sport. this.

Then, that very same 12 months, the group that the Korean press nicknamed “Garlic girl(In a nod to their area’s iconic merchandise) shocked the nation by accusing their coach of verbal and psychological abuse.

9 months after their victory on the Olympics, the group held a shock press convention during which they expressed their displeasure towards two of their coaches and the daddy of one of many coaches, who can also be a vp. President of the Korean Curling Federation.

Garlic Women stated the trio cursed them, berated them in the event that they interacted with different athletes, banned them from utilizing social media and withheld their prize cash. Additionally they attempt to trick the group’s captain, Kim Eun-jung, after studying of her plans to get married.

“Truthfully, I am not completely certain if we have made it by this but,” Kim Kyeong-ae, a group member, wrote in an e-mail to The New York Instances as she ready for World Battle II. Beijing Winter Olympics this month.

Whereas a few of South Korea’s high athletes have endured many years of harsh coaching and abuse, a youthful technology has begun to again down, impressed at the least partially by the Garlic Women.

Press convention helped revive painful discussions about the abuse of athletes in Korea, the place autocracy, exploitation and misconduct have been prevalent for many years. Elite sports activities within the nation are notoriously hierarchical, with males typically on the high and athletes requested to not be questioned.

In 2008, the federal government’s Nationwide Human Rights Fee reported that just about 80 p.c of pupil athletes in center and excessive faculties had physically and verbally abused from their coach and older teammates.

After Garlic Women spoke up, there have been a collection of different abuse accounts, together with from Shim Suk-hee, a member of South Korea’s nationwide brief observe pace skating group and two-time gold medalist. Olympic, who stated she was repeatedly raped by her former coach. (Final 12 months he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.)

A number of feminine judo, taekwondo and wrestling athletes have additionally come ahead to accuse their male coaches of sexual abuse.

In February 2019, following an investigation, the federal government stated that many of the allegations made by Garlic Women had been true. The 2 coaches and Kim Kyung-doo, the official of the ball sport, had been banned from taking part within the sport for all times.

And for the primary time, South Korea appointed three overseas coaches to guide the ladies’s, males’s and blended doubles groups on the Olympics. Garlic Women will compete towards Canada in Beijing on Thursday in a one-way round-robin match.

Kim Kyeong-ae, 28, wrote: “Though we can not know and alter all of the corruption within the sports activities world, at the least on this sport we are able to reveal what has occurred. and is occurring within the hope that it will not occur once more. , in her e-mail.

However those that communicate out threat being sidelined or criticized. Coaches have monumental management over their athletes, who’re recruited at a younger age and dwell in dormitories. Lots of them are kicked out of college and really feel they don’t have any profession choices in the event that they fail.

Oh Ji-hoon, a former pace racer who has educated in each the USA and South Korea, says that Korean athletes typically do not query their coach’s strategies of self-discipline and coaching. as a result of they’re used to it since childhood.

“In South Korea, the coaching applications are extra intense than within the US,” Mr. Oh stated. “There’s much less time, a lot much less flexibility, and to be sincere, it is fairly widespread for coaches to yell at skaters.”

After the group went public with their allegations, Peter Gallant, a Canadian coach who guided them to a silver medal on the 2018 Winter Olympics, publicly supported the gamers. .

Mr. Gallant is presently the group’s head coach, and batting specialists say his expertise has the potential to take the Garlic Women to higher heights. The group adores him, calling him “Appa” or father in Korean. In an e-mail, Mr. Gallant famous that the extent of respect that curlers have for these older than them is so excessive that “nothing actually goes unanswered” throughout the follow.

That is not essentially a superb factor. “A coach desires his athletes to ask questions,” he added.

4 of the 5 Garlic Women come from Uiseong, a farming neighborhood and a seemingly unlikely web site for a sporting revolution. The agricultural city of 53,000 makes use of an animated garlic bulb because the district’s mascot.

Garlic Women stated their earlier coaches typically made them really feel ashamed for not being from a giant metropolis. “It was ineffective to coach individuals within the countryside,” they recall being advised.

Nevertheless, Uiseong is house to one among Korea’s first volleys, in-built 2006 after a former authorities official watched the game throughout a visit to Canada.

Kim Eun-jung, the captain, and presently ranked seventh on the planet, fell in love with the game after attempting it out throughout highschool PE class. She inspired her classmate Kim Yeong-mi to hitch, who was adopted by her youthful sister, Kim Kyeong-ae.

Kim Cho-hi, the one member who is not from Uiseong, additionally began to review contortion in center college, however in Gyeonggi Province, simply outdoors of Seoul.

As a result of all of them have the identical final identify, the Garlic ladies are also called Crew Kim. To set themselves aside, every individual selected a nickname honoring their favourite breakfast dish. Miss Kim Eun-jung is “Annie”, the identify of a yogurt model. Kim Yeong-mi is “Pancake,” whereas her older sister, Kyeong-ae, is “Steak.” Kim Cho-hi is “ChoCho”, a nod to chocolate chip cookies, which she likes to eat for breakfast. Kim Seon-yeong is “Sunny”, which implies sunny eggs.

The group was a weaker group when it got here to the 2018 Winter Olympics, however inflicted defeats towards Canada and Switzerland, two powerhouses in snooker. Nearly in a single day, Garlic Women grew to become a craze in a rustic that knew little about perm.

Over the previous two years, the pandemic has made it tough to follow. A number of contests have been cancelled. And in contrast to groups from international locations the place the game of curling has lengthy been in style, the Garlic Women typically should journey overseas to compete and practice, which implies going through quarantines and spending time time away from house.

However Mr Gallant stated the group’s expertise with earlier coaches has ready them for the long run, even with the pandemic. In an interview with Rock through the ponda twisty podcast, he says with out query that “it created a hardiness in them.”

“To do what they did, to make issues public, takes quite a lot of braveness and energy,” he stated. “It doesn’t matter what they face now, it will not be as unhealthy.”

Sui-Lee Wee stories from Beijing and Jin Yu Younger from Seoul. How the ‘Garlic Women’ Overcame Abuse to Return to the Olympics

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