Korea's highly decorated female lifter Jang Mi-ran said in a press conference announcing her retirement last Thursday that she will take on the challenge of trying to gain a seat on the Athletes' Commission of the International Olympic Committee.
Jang competed in three Olympics, where she picked up one gold and one silver medal, and won four straight world titles during her career. "Becoming an IOC member would enable me to exert a greater influence in the sporting arena, so I will endeavor to become a qualified candidate."
In July last year, figure skater Kim Yu-na said she would like to become an IOC member and keep competing in her sport until the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, to fill the requirements to run for the post.
The 2010 Vancouver Olympics gold medalist took a break from competitive skating following her second-place finish at the 2011 World Championships in Moscow, not long after her triumph in the Olympics.
She was part of the committee that won the bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Kim played a key role in presenting Korea’s case at the IOC General Assembly in Durban, South Africa in 2011. Her experience in the field of sports diplomacy has apparently fueled her dream of becoming an IOC member.
As both athletes have expressed their intention to vie for the position, some worry this may result in a clash. Korea already has two IOC members: Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee was elected in 1996 and lawmaker Moon Dae-sung in 2008. Moon, who won a gold medal in taekwondo at the Athens Games in 2004, ran for the position during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The athletes' commission is composed of 15 among the IOC's 101 members. If a country already has one of its nationals on the commission, it cannot recommend another until their term expires. Moon's eight-year term ends in 2016, meaning Korea can recommend a replacement from among its summer Olympians who compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Only athletes who competed in the most recent Olympics are eligible to run for the IOC's athletes' commission. Jang qualifies for the bid in 2016 as she finished fourth at the 2012 London Games.
Jin Jong-oh, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in shooting, has also expressed his intention of becoming an IOC member. If Jin, Jang or another athlete is elected as an member of the IOC's athletes' commission in 2016, Kim Yu-na may have to permanently put her dream of membership on ice.