After winning Korea’s first ever gold medal at the Olympics for Men’s Gymnastics, South Korean Yang Hak-seon’s story has made headlines. Going from being impoverished and homeless to receiving donations worth US$444,000, this man would probably say that his talents have paid off.
Since his start at the age of nine, Yang has been great in gymnastics, placing first in the vault event at the 2010 Asian Games. But several years ago, his father lost his job at the factory due to injury. Yang and his parents had to live in a polytunnel, covered with thin wooden boards and plastic sheeting. He had to support his family with the income from the Korea Gymnastic Association, along with the money from his father’s part-time job as a farmer.
However, after earning an average score of 16.533 and the gold medal in the men’s vault final at the 2012 Olympics, Yang’s situation was brought to light. Donations began pouring in from South Korean companies, as well as the Korea Gymnastic Association, which offered him 100 million won (US$88,880). A construction group will be building an apartment for Yang and his family to move into by the end of next year, and Nongshim, the company which makes his favorite instant noodles, has promised to supply the family with a “limitless amount of instant noodles.”
Before his spectacular win, very few had known about his family’s financial situation. Even his coach, Cho Sung-doe, only knew that he was a young man with a natural gift for gymnastics.
Though that’s true and can be proven by his amazing triple-twisting handspring front somersault, his success story makes him an even more remarkable person. Hopefully his family will be on more stable ground from now on.
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