Park Young Ghil, a black belt (9th dan), one of the greatest Taekwondo masters in the world and the honorary president of FITA (Italian Taekwondo Federation) as well, is the man who officially introduced this sport to Italy in 1966. “I started in Rome one year after my arrival, in 1967, then I moved to Naples: while Europe was troubled by the protests of ’68, I brought the tiny, but somehow big, Taekwondo revolution in this city”, Park explains, after granting us the honour of an interview at Palacasoria, the official venue for the Taekwondo qualifications and finals in the 2019 Universiade.
“After 53 years I am proud of the World Title recently achieved by FITA Italian team in Manchester”, he proudly reminds. “The Universiade, though, is a different world. It is a difficult tournament where Koreans have prevailed so far, winning 6 gold medals. Also, we must not forget the teams from Iran and Egypt, who won a silver medal”. After all, Taekwondo was born in Korea and “people from the Far East have always been more agile and flexible. I have to admit that in this edition of the International University Games, physical condition has been a decisive factor for women’s competitions as well, since the athletes are tall and thin. The American performance in freestyle impressed me as well” adds the Grandmaster.
“Italians play at home, they are supported by people cheering out loud. The love for the Italian flag is really strong here, so it is up to the athletes to ‘wake up’ and give their best on the tatami”, he says, as if he was scolding the Italian team. The Grandmaster also has a dig at the state of venue, which is “beautiful, but it is too hot inside the building”. With these words he ends the interview before attending the award ceremony.