The 22nd Korean American National Sports Festival, held in New York City, concluded on June 25 after three days of intense competition starting from June 23. The event, dubbed the ‘Olympic festival for Korean Americans,’ spanned four weeks, beginning with the torch lighting ceremony in Los Angeles on May 30 and culminating in the closing ceremony.
After a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic, LA secured seventh place, while OC achieved fifth place in the competition. OC was the best-performing team from the western United States. New York, hosting the sports festival for the first time in 40 years, claimed the overall first place, participating in 18 events excluding ice hockey and softball. New Jersey secured second place, followed by Dallas in third place, and Washington D.C. in fourth place.
The Korean Sports Association of LA fielded a group of players in 13 events, including table tennis, golf, volleyball, basketball, badminton, and bowling. “The LA team had over 180 players and won gold medals in golf and tennis,” stated Sung Ik Lee, an official from the Korea Sports Association in the USA.
The Korea Sports of Council of Orange County participated with over 100 players competing in six events: bowling, table tennis, badminton, ice hockey, taekwondo, and baseball. The OC team achieved gold in table tennis, baseball, and badminton, silver in taekwondo and bowling, and bronze in ice hockey. Despite its smaller size, the OC team performed admirably, with remarkable accomplishments.
“The players displayed outstanding performance under challenging conditions and achieved remarkable results,” said Jae-seok Choi, president of the Korea Sports of Council of Orange County. “I am grateful to the OC sportsmen who contributed to the successful organization of the sports festival.”
The 22nd Korean American National Sports Festival, the first to be held in New York in 40 years, commenced on June 23 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island. More than 10,000 players from 34 cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and San Francisco, competed in 20 events such as football, taekwondo, swimming, and marathon, over three days at the Eisenhower Park Sports Center and Nassau Community College.
The sports festival, held every two years with the aim of promoting positive thinking through physical education and enhancing unity within the Korean American community by fostering communication, harmony, and a sense of participation, resumed after a four-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the games’ commencement, a welcome ceremony for the transcontinental torch relay took place from Murray Hill Open Street Square to 153rd Street on June 21. The transcontinental torch relay, dedicated to the success of the games, embarked on a 7,000-mile journey from Los Angeles, passing through Las Vegas, Missouri, Texas, Atlanta, and New Jersey before arriving in New York City after 20 days.
Various cultural events, including the K-food festival and a photo exhibition commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Korea-U.S. Alliance and the 70th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement, were also held. It is reported that these events played a significant role in establishing the identity of second- and third-generation Korean American youths participating in the competition.
Los Angeles has been chosen to host the next Korean American National Sports Festival in two years’ time.
BY EUNBYUL KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]