Why We Run – The Secrets Of Cross Country

The benefits of Cross Country far outweigh the struggle.

PC: Eliot Juno Yun ’19

Do you ever feel like you just don’t do enough in your life? You never go on volunteer trips because you’re too shy, too lazy, or don’t speak Korean… You never sign up or get into school clubs or committees that look pretty on other people’s college applications… I’m sure that at some point in your life, you’ve felt like this—hopeless.

The prejudiced summary of what people think when they hear “cross country” is all about the physical and mental stress that it puts on you and the terrible struggles you face throughout, but as a member of the team, I can say that this is not the whole truth. I asked a few questions to one cross-country captain, Jenny Lee…

(Interviewer): “Do you think that people should join cross-country?”

(Jenny – XC Captain): “Yes, definitely. Cross-country is a very beneficial sport… ”

(Interviewer): “Why?”

(Jenny): “Well, I guess cross-country just fits a wider variety of people… ”

One main benefit of cross-country is physical health. By running, you will gain muscle strength and endurance—and most likely your dream six-pack—but there are even more advantages you will receive. According to an article from Harvard Health, a runner’s risk of death by anything in general is reduced by 30% and their risk of death by strokes or heart attacks is reduced by 45%. Another article from the WomensRunning magazine stated that simply running 5 minutes each day was enough to decrease your risk of getting cardiovascular disease by 45%. Another fact is that you will undoubtedly end up drinking a much higher amount of water which has its own enormous set of health benefits on its own.

Another benefit of cross-country is mental health. According to the WomensRunning magazine, running reduces your risk of depression by 19%. And as they say, cross-country is a mental sport. The more you improve, the stronger your mind will be in terms of not giving up—which is a far more important skill than you might think. Cross-country is known as a mental sport because it focuses on long-distance running. You run at a certain pace for an extended period of time. Because of this, you have to spout nonsense positivity at yourself for the entire race to keep going, which has a surprisingly effective and positive impact on your mental state. The harder you try, the prouder you’ll be, and even if you don’t try that hard, you’ll still gain some degree of respect for yourself because you’re simply able to withstand that mental challenge.

There are no judgements in Cross-country—unless you brag to people about how hard it is and how amazing you are because you’re on the team. Age or social status doesn’t matter. You will be accepted into the team no matter how strange you are. And to be absolutely honest, the team members might be the weirdest you’ll ever meet—including the coaches. I observed that everyone was running their own race. Cross-country may be a team, but we are all running our own individual races to improve ourselves.

The students that don’t do this sport usually say they don’t do cross-country because they’re not good at running. According to several members of the team, “whether you are good at running or not, doesn’t really matter”—it is just an excuse for their lack of motivation. Of course, this may not be true and some students may prioritise other sports or activities over cross-country, but if you’ve got nothing else to do, why not take just two hours of your time slacking off, procrastinating, and simply sign a few forms that say “Off campus agreement” and “Medical release form”, etc… that really mean, “I want to improve myself”.

Running is hard. There is no denying that it is, but I’d argue that dying of heart attacks, strokes, or cancer is just as stressful. Do you not believe that practising alongside these funny, enjoyable team members to get a healthier, stronger body, stronger mind, and greater respect for yourself and others, is worthwhile? You may say you’re never going to join cross-country, that it’s not worth the shaky breath, the sweat, the aches and cramps, but as one of the captains has said before, “People should join cross-country for its benefits, and for the fact that it fits a variety of people”.

What she meant by this, was that no matter how short, how tall, how unpopular, popular, or smart you are, the team will care for you—so long as you treat everyone else with true, unbiased respect. You will be given immediate value for joining and you will learn to love yourself and be more confident. I have never seen more equal, accepting, and supportive a family as the KIS cross-country team.

– Michelle Lee (‘22)

Featured image: Eliot Juno Yun (’19)

Rio Olympics in a Nutshell: South Korea’s Achievements

From archery to golf, South Korea earns some of the biggest successes of Olympic history during the 17-day span.

The once-buzzing two week session of the summer Olympics has finally come to a close, and South Korea was not an exception for bringing a wide array of national sports heroes into the country’s frontier. Standing proudly in front of the podium facing hundreds of journalists and fans, the athletes attended the press conference on August 24th, celebrating the end of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and South Korea’s outstanding accomplishments overall.

Placed eighth out of 206 countries, South Korea managed to stay rooted in the grounds of Top 10 for four years straight, all the way back from Athens 2004 to Beijing 2008, London 2012, and today at Rio 2016. Also, out of 28 sports categories with the two recent additions of golf and rugby, South Korea was able to bring home 9 gold medals, 3 silver medals, and 9 bronze medals overall. Their solid effort clearly evident, the athletes never ceased to amaze the audience with their hard-earned achievements shining brightly on a string of green around their necks.

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Athletes rendering respect to South Korea’s national anthem

First off, South Korea danced all over their rivals to complete a clean sweep of all four titles in the Olympic archery event yet again in Men’s Team/Individual and Women’s Team/Individual.

Continuing their effortless domination in the venue, the female team has now won the event every time since its introduction in 1988 Seoul, proving themselves a cut above all other opponents. The trio of Bobae Ki, Misun Choi and Hye-Jin Chang came in by unstoppable storm, shooting brilliantly to ease to a 5-1 victory over Russia in the final round and sent the crowd into euphoric hurrah. In addition, the seamless threesome of Woo-Jin Kim, Bon-Chan Ku and Seung-Yun Lee roared to a 6-0 win to garner South Korea’s fifth team title and fourth in the last five Olympics, which also paid back for the grief of their failure to make it to the final in 2012. These consecutive medals definitely served as a notable evidence that archery is the country’s most successful event ever in the summer Olympics.

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Republic of Korea’s archers broaden their Olympic reign

Unprecedented success followed too, however. The audience failed to hide their amazement when fencing newbie Sang-Young Park reeled off five consecutive points to claim the unlikely comeback of South Korea’s third gold medal, just on the verge of defeat by 14-10 against Geza Imre of Hungary. It only took a matter of seconds to crush the seemingly insurmountable match for Park to secure his 15th point of his miraculous victory. After his remarkable performance, Park is officially the second South Korean man to win an individual Olympic gold in fencing, and the very first in the Men’s Individual Epee.

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Park cries out in glee after his first gold in the Olympics

Another round of medals was brought in by star shooter Jong-Oh Jin, when an unexpected miscue was not enough to hinder his goal for a third straight gold in Men’s 50-meter Pistol competition. Also, Korean Taekwondo players revved up their game by winning 5 medals for all 5 participants, with 2 proud golds attained by Hye-Ri Oh and So-Hee Kim as well as 3 bronze medals to top it all off.

More legendary Olympic records were engraved into history in Rio, including the return of golf back into the Games for one of its 28 programmes. This time, LPGA star In-bee Park won gold in women’s golf and defeated world’s No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand, marking the very first medal in history after 112 years of non-inclusion. Park has won 7 majors, including the career Grand Slam, and earlier this year became the youngest golfer in history to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame. Now she has the first gold medal awarded in women’s golf since Paris 1900, the only time women previously competed in golf before at the Olympics.

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Park smiles standing on top of her first ever Olympic podium

Amidst the flurry of outstanding accomplishments and world records, several disappointments were inevitable as well. South Korea had to face a devastating defeat against Honduras by 1-0, failing to advance to the semifinals of the men’s soccer tournament. Furthermore, South Korea bowed out of the quarterfinals in women’s volleyball, unable to pursue its first Olympic volleyball medal since the team’s bronze in 1976 in Montreal 40 years ago. Rhythmic gymnast Yeon-Jae Son also failed to seize her dream of earning a medal by finishing fourth in the individual all-around final by merely 0.685 points apart from third place Ganna Rizatdinova of Ukraine. However, among the traditionally strong Russian competitors, Son’s Olympics record was by far the best out of all the other Asian gymnasts.

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Son is unable to hide her tears when landing just below third place

Now it comes to question what significance these accomplishments actually carries to the medalists themselves and the nation. The Olympics urges athletes to get higher, faster, and stronger, pushing them to reach the peak and even beyond the human potential accompanied by their intense training and hardcore dedication. However, one needs to realize that the Games is not all about earning a gold, let alone any color of the medal. For an athlete, the Olympics is everything, four years of his or her life to prepare for a tiny hole, and once it closes, there is not much time for re-qualification. Despite the media frenzy motivating the contestants to perform at their best, the chances are that they might not be so lucky this year round. This brings to a conclusion that the Olympics is really all about trying your best, creating memories, building new experiences, and most of all – having fun.

– Ashley Kim (’18)

Varsity Swim Team’s Strong Performance at AISA

Alas, the 2015-2016 spring sports season is coming to a close. With this in mind, KIS Varsity Swim team has taken a step further to finishing the term with a solid performance at this year’s AISA (Association of International Schools in Asia) meet at Seoul International School, from April 15th to 16th. The team was consisted of 16 swimmers as point scorers with 8 girls and 8 boys selected from total 26 members. Along with SIS and SOIS (Senri Osaka International School), KIS pulled off a phenomenal competition, bringing home excellent results.

 

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The 3 AISA teams of KIS, SIS, and SOIS

 

The 16 AISA swimmers were composed of Sarah Hong (10), Selena Kim (10), Hajung Lee (12), Hannah Lee (11), Seiyeon Park (11), Graisy Ra (9), Yonje Rhee (9), and Celine Yoon (9) from the girls team, and Sean Choi (10), Geo Han (11), Patrick Jung (10), Joonjae Kim (9), Keetae Kim (12), Junwon Lee (10), Ki Hwan Nam (12), and Jaehyeon Park (9) from the boys team.

 

The KIS Varsity Swim Team placed 2nd at the tournament with SIS placing 1st and SOIS in 3rd. However, surprisingly, the team was able to bring home the Team Sportsmanship Award this year, as SOIS had always claimed the title in the previous years. To add on to the wow factor, KIS swimmers broke 7 AISA records in total. First off, Celine Yoon, Selena Kim, Yonje Rhee and Sarah Hong set the new 200M medley relay record. Also, Sean Choi set the record in the 50M butterfly event. Last but not least, Yonje Rhee shocked everyone by setting records in the 200M Individual Medley, 50M and 100M butterfly, and 50M and 100M backstroke events – meaning new records for all the events she swam in. With this accomplishment, she was able to effortlessly claim the Top Female Swimmer Award as well.

 

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Yonje’s outstanding achievement

 

When the record setters of the team were interviewed with a few questions, they all answered with similarly enthusiastic reactions and responses.

 

  1. How did you feel about the AISA meet in general?

 

“I am very honored and grateful that I broke so many AISA records last weekend. I owe a lot of my accomplishments to the KIS swim team with the other swim members pushing me to work harder at every practice. The upcoming meet, KAIAC, will be the final competition this season and I am looking forward to the results that we as a team bring back. I was really proud to have represented our school during this swimming season and as a freshman, I am excited for the next swimming seasons,” Yonje responded with vigor.

 

“The AISA meet was a terrific experience in my high school swimming career as I have never swum that many events in the span of two days. Regarding my preparations for that meet, I did not particularly train extra specially or anything,” Sean remarked.

 

“AISA was really exciting and a lot of team bonding was made. Despite the limited pool size, the environment made us feel more like a tight team which was great. It was also a great opportunity to meet swimmers from other schools,” Selena said.

 

  1. How did you feel about setting new records for AISA?

 

“I am very proud of our team for breaking the AISA girls medley relay record. I believe we deserved 1st place because we all trained hard enough to be rewarded with the title. Half of our medley team swimmers went to the sophomore Experiential Education trip and could not train for several days, which worried us that we would not be able to swim our best. However, we all did great with no major problems, and I am very happy for that,” replied Sarah.

 

“I was honestly really surprised when the girls medley relay broke the AISA record because we’ve never beaten the SIS medley relay team before. But when I found out we broke an AISA record I felt very proud of not only our medley team but of the coaches and the entire team because they always supported us,” Selena remarked.

 

“Breaking the AISA record came to me as a surprise as I was not expecting it for several reasons. The meet in general was an exhausting experience as I have never swam 7 different events in a single day. Also, I had to swim the 100M IM merely ten minutes prior to the next event. Basically, I was dying. Breaking the record was NOT one of my goals. But the 50M butterfly is one of the only events I feel confident in winning because the time gap I have in between second place has always been a significant amount,” Sean added.

 

  1. How are you preparing for this upcoming KAIAC (Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference)?

 

“One of my main goals for the KAIAC meet is to break the KAIAC record for the 50m butterfly (which I have a long way to go). I have definitely been preparing extra hard for this meet: strict workouts, hellish training, and lots and lots of eating and sleeping”, Sean claimed.

 

“We’re swimming very intensely these days, around 2 kilometers every practice. Our coach is also pushing us to sleep and eat a lot. As of right now, the hard practices make me hate swimming but I know that when we get our best times in KAIAC, we’ll love swimming (and the coaches) again,” replied Selena.

 

“This year was my first year participating in AISA as a freshman and I learned so many things there. It felt really good for me to swim as hard as I could in AISA since I had practiced hard every day, and AISA was finally the time to show off what the team had been practicing for. Setting a new record for the girls medley relay was surreal, and it made me so thankful that our hard work at practices had payed off. The past few weeks were all about preparing for KAIAC and even though the drills that we do can be extremely tiring at times, I know that it’ll be worth it once I get to swim in KAIAC. KAIAC is the last competition of the season, and although I’m pretty nervous, I push myself to be the best swimmer that I can be everyday so that I won’t regret anything in the team’s last competition of the season!” Celine answered with glee.

 

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Team photo after meet, with the Team Sportsmanship Award

 

On the whole, the team’s sense of pride and spirit among each other heightened, and Mr. McClure, the Varsity Swim Team coach, was no exception.

 

“AISA in general was a really awesome meet with a fun format. Timewise, our team showed 2% improvement overall, and a lot of the swimmers decreased their previous records by at least 3 seconds. I also loved having Japan over, and just the whole idea of having three schools come along and swim together in such an exciting competition. What was most impressive was the Team Sportsmanship Award, which I personally think served as the whole school’s achievement. It proved that we have succeeded in accomplishing one of our school’s goals and raising our school’s reputation as a whole,” he responded passionately.

 

With a tightly packed training schedule and a determined mind to score, the Varsity Swim Team is ready to take on KAIAC and bring out the best results hopefully for a secure placing in the top 3’s. Afterall, swimming is a team sport, despite the many individualistic aspects.

 

– Ashley Kim (‘18)