Son Yeon Jae: History for Korea at the World Championships!27/09/2014
The culture was different, and the food especially so, but Son Yeon Jae's (KOR) love for Rhythmic Gymnastics carried her through the hard times when she moved to Russia four years ago to train among the best in the world.
Son Yeon Jae (KOR) made history for her country in Izmir, winning Korea its first World medal in Rhythmic Gymnastics with her bronze with the Hoop. Above, her Hoop routine from the qualification round at the World Championships.
As a promising young Rhythmic gymnast in Seoul, Son often had the opportunity to travel to the gymnastics school of legendary coach and starmarker Irina Viner outside of Moscow. But as Son progressed, she came to realize that the clinics in Russia a few times a year were not enough. And so, after winning a bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou (CHN), Son made one of the gutsiest moves of her career: Asking Viner if she could stay. Viner, impressed by the young Korean's determination and natural talent, said yes.
"Yes, it was hard at first, when I was younger," said Son, who speaks Russian with her coaches, Korean with her family and English if necessary with the international press. "Everything was different. But I loved the sport, and now I have adapted."
Following Son's fifth-place finish at the London Olympics, where her joy in performing made her a crowd favorite, she became a celebrity in Korea, gymnastics's equivalent of Kim Yu-na, the popular Olympic gold medallist in figure skating from Vancouver in 2010.
On Tuesday night, her training and sacrifice took her even further, leading Son to earn the World bronze medal with the Hoop, giving South Korea it's first-ever World medal in Rhythmic Gymnastics. The result is historic for Korea, as well as being the best placement for an Asian gymnast at a World Championships since 1975.
Although Son credits her Russian coaches for carrying her to the next level, it is the support of the Korean people, which she feels even from Moscow, that gives her strength. Her bronze with the Hoop is their medal, she said.
"I would like to thank the people of Korea for their support," she said humbly Wednesday following another balletic and enchanting performance with the Ribbon, which easily qualified her for the event final, where she finished fifth. Next up: Next week's Asian Games in Incheon (KOR), where she will have a rare opportunity to perform before the Korean people, to show them in person what she is capable of achieving.
"I hope I will be able to do more," she concluded softly, a smile spreading across her face. "We'll see."
|22/09/2014 28/09/2014||33rd Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships 2014||IZMIR (TUR)||RG|