Duncan Mackay
Yang Hak-Seon profileWith the Summer Universiade, the festival of college sports, occurring this July in Kazan, Russia, the national Korean team, at the Taereung training centre, is in full training mode.

Even though I have experienced many international events such as the World Championships, Asian Games, and Olympics, this upcoming Universiade has a special meaning for me.

It is the first Universiade that I will be taking part in as a university student, and I also have the huge responsibility of fulfilling my position as the honorary ambassador of the next host city, 2015 Gwangju Universiade. Many talented Russian gymnasts are expected to participate in the Kazan Universiade which will provide a high level of competition.

The Universiade is a competition event held biannually and with the participants being amateur college athletes between the ages 17 to 28, it can be called a commercial-free Olympics. Since professional athletes are not eligible to participate, it creates an atmosphere of genuine sports spirit, as well as providing a scene of global friendship and unity between the young athletes from around the world.

I believe the Universiade has always played an important role in the history of Korean sports by discovering new star athletes as well as providing the opportunity for rookie athletes to advance globally. Korea first became associated with the Summer Universiade in 1959 at the first Games, held in Turin.

Yang Hak-Sun with London 2012 Olympic gold medalYang Hak-Seon celebrates becoming the first South Korean gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal, in the vault at London 2012

The first Korean gold medal came from the women's basketball team in the fifth Tokyo Summer Universiade, in 1967, just eight years later. This preceded the gold medal won by wrestler, Yang Jung-Mo at the Montreal Olympics, in 1976, and is recorded as the first gold medal that came out of a Summer Olympiad for the Korean team.

Universiade is especially meaningful to Korean gymnastics, as Korea's legendary gymnast Yeo Hong-Chul won the very first Korean gold medal in gymnastics at the Sheffield Summer Universiade in 1991. He continued his winning streak with a silver medal at the Buffalo Summer Universiade in 1993, another silver medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, and a gold medal at the Bangkok Asian Games in 1998, bringing a great change to the history of gymnastics in Korea.

Also, at the 2003 Daegu Universiade, Yang Tae-Young won four gold medals in the team and individual events, winning the most medals and becoming the biggest star of the Games.

The Universiade has become a stage for many athletes to make a name for themselves. Canada's Ben Johnson in athletics, Russia's Chou Chou Nova and Romania's Nadia Comăneci in gymnastics are some names that have graced the Universiade as well as Korean national marathon hero, Hwang Young-cho, who won at Sheffield in 1991 and the following year, in Barcelona, claimed the Olympic gold medal.

World Student Games Sheffield 1991Sheffield hosted the Universiade in 1991, where South Korea's Hwang Young-cho won the marathon, a year before he claimed Olympic gold in Barcelona

The 2015 Gwangju Summer Universiade, which will be held in two years time, will serve as a stage for young athletes to develop and advance globally. The rookies wishing to make an international profile through the Gwangju Universiade, as well as those wishing to advance to the Rio Olympics in 2016, are putting their full effort in training at the Taereung training centre and preparing for the moment to shine a light on their passion and youth.

For the athletes to fully perform at the best of their ability and compete with worldwide athletes in Gwangju, construction of infrastructure, development of talented athletes, and continued support and attention from the public is necessary.

As a participant of the Kazan Universiade and an honorary ambassador of the 2015 Gwangju Universiade, I am excited to see whether another star athlete will be born through the future Universiades. I hope that through the 2015 Gwangju Universiade, Korea, as well as the whole world, has the opportunity to write a new chapter in the history of sports.

Yang Hak-Seon is the first South Korean gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal, in the vault at London 2012. He is an Honorary Ambassador for the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju