Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na announced Monday she will retire from competitions after the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
In a news conference at a training center for national athletes in Taenung, Seoul, hastily scheduled to clarify the future of her career, the 21-year-old skater also said she will try to become a member of the International Olympic Committee after the Sochi Olympics.
|Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na speaks about her future career in a news conference in the training center for national athletes in Taenung, Seoul on Monday. (Park Hae-mook / The Korea Herald)|
When she will retire has been the subject of speculation since she won the gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. She is the first Korean figure skater to win the Olympic Games, and one of the most highly recognized athletes and media figures in the country.
She brought the nation its first-ever Olympic gold medal in figure skating and – with a new world record of 228.56 points. At that time, it was the first time ever for a female figure skater to top 220 points. She beat the silver medalist, Mao Asada of Japan, by 23.06 points.
“After winning the gold medal in the Vancouver Olympic Games, I found it difficult to find a higher goal as a figure skater, as the public support for me has grown. Fans’ interest and love gave me a heavy sense of burden, and it was my wish to shed the burden just for a single day,” she told reporters.
“But I have been motivated anew while training with junior skaters at the training center for national athletes in Taenung, Seoul,” Kim said. “I thought I would regret later if I give up my active career because of the sense of burden which presses me to be the best.”
She entered the 2010 World Championships about a month after Vancouver and finished second. Kim later confessed to suffering from an emotional breakdown and sat out the entire 2010-11 season before entering the World Championships in April 2011 and finishing runner-up again.
It was the last competitive event for Kim, who has only appeared in corporate ice shows both within and outside South Korea in the ensuing months. She is said to have trained steadily at an ice rink for national athletes in Seoul.
“I will start over as a national skater rather than as the Vancouver Olympic gold medalist. I would like my fans to support me not as the Olympic gold medalist but as one of national athletes,” she said, adding that she will train as scheduled to make the national team and compete in the World Championships.
She expressed her determination to prepare herself to be an IOC member after the Sochi Olympics. “I nourished a dream of becoming an IOC member while promoting the Korean bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics,” Kim said.
She was one of the eight Korean delegates who delivered a presentation for the Korean city of PyeongChang, which won the hosting rights. She is required to compete in the Sochi Olympics to qualify as a possible IOC member.
By Chun Sung-woo
<관련 한글 기사>김연아 '새로운 도전' 다짐!
'피겨 여왕' 김연아(22•고려대)가 은퇴 대신 새로운 도전을 선택했다.
김연아는 2일 태릉선수촌 국제스케이트장 2층 대회의실에서 기자회견을 열고 2014년 소치 동계올림픽까지 선수 생활을 이어가겠다고 말했다.
김연아는 "태릉에서 후배들과 함께 훈련하면서 자극을 많이 받았고 계속 해야겠 다는 동기 부여도 받아다"며 "할 일이 남았다는 생각이 들었다"고 말했다.
그는 "그동안 느꼈던 많은 부담감은 높은 기대치에 따른 부담이 아닐까 생각했 다"면서 "기대치를 낮추고 자신만을 위한 피겨 연기 보여주는 것을 목표로 삼으면 되지 않을까. 부담 때문에 그만두면 후회하고 아쉬움이 남을 것 같다는 생각이 들었 다"고 했다.
"이제 금메달리스트가 아닌 피겨 국가대표 김연아로 새 출발 하겠다"는 김연아는 "똑같은 국가대표 김연아로 봐주셨으면 좋겠다"며 웃었다.
김연아는 "2014년 소치에서 현역 은퇴하겠다"며 "어릴 때 종착역은 밴쿠버였지만 소치로 연장했고 그곳에서 '유종의 미'를 거두고 싶다"고 강조했다.