Running for IOC membership, LPGA legend Park In-bee looking to promote athletes’ rights


South Korean golfer Park In-bee enjoyed her moment in the Olympic spotlight eight years ago in Rio de Janeiro, where she captured the women’s individual gold medal as the sport made its return to the Summer Games after more than a century away.

With the next Olympic Games about two weeks away in Paris, Park is trying to create more Olympic memories for herself. She will run for a seat on the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Athletes’ Commission.

Park, an LPGA Hall of Famer with 21 career titles on the U.S. circuit, will be up against 32 athletes for four positions available.

The Athletes’ Commission is composed of a maximum of 23 members — 12 members directly elected by fellow athletes and a maximum of 11 appointed — and they each serve an eight-year term.

One of the four outgoing members this summer is Ryu Seung-min, the 2004 Olympic men’s table tennis champion from South Korea who was elected at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

According to the IOC, four candidates from four different spo
rts will be elected by their peers. All athletes competing in Paris will be eligible to vote at the athletes’ village in the French capital.

Park attended the official launch ceremony for the South Korean delegation to Paris on Tuesday. She told reporters afterward she is scheduled to travel to Paris next Tuesday, and voting will begin two days later.

“Since there are athletes from many different countries, I heard it’d be nice to be able to greet them in their own languages, and also make good eye contact with them,” Park said. “It’s not going to be as easy as it sounds. But I will try to make connections with as many athletes as I can.”

Park said she feels much more relaxed now than eight years ago because she is not competing but added, “At least as an athlete, I was used to feeling nerves. This is a different kind of nervousness because I haven’t done this before.”

Park said she will try to promote rights for Olympic athletes.

“I think it will be almost important to give athletes more responsibilitie
s,” Park said. “Now that I am a working mom myself, I also think participation of athletes with children is also important.”

As an accomplished golfer, Park said she’d like to see more medals up for grabs in her sport.

“Since golf is back as an Olympic sport, I think it’d be fun for viewers to see a team event or a mixed team event in golf,” Park added.

In the women’s event in Paris, South Korea will be represented by former world No. 1 Ko Jin-young, and a pair of LPGA major champions in Kim Hyo-joo and Amy Yang.

This will be the second Olympics for all three — Ko and Kim played in Tokyo in 2021, and Yang was in Rio with Park in 2016.

“I think they will feel less pressure now than their first Olympics, and their experience should help,” Park said. “It’s going to be a tough tournament in hot conditions in France, but I hope they will all play well. They will have a ton of support from back home.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency