Published : 2013-08-29 09:32
Updated : 2013-08-29 10:48
Son Yeon-jae on Wednesday came up short of medals in ball and hoop events at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Kiev, Ukraine.
The reigning Asian all-around champion finished seventh in both apparatus finals. She earned 16.658 points in ball and 17.158 points in hoop, with both routines marred by miscues.
In the qualification round earlier in the day, Son scored 17.550 points in hoop and 17.400 points in ball for a combined 34.950 points. That ranks her sixth in the individual all-around qualification, with two more apparatus events -- clubs and ribbon -- scheduled for Thursday. Son needs to finish inside the top 24 overall to qualify for the all-around final.
Margarita Mamun of Russia won the ball event with 18.516 points, and Ganna Rizatdinova of Ukraine led all competitors in hoop with 18.266 points.
Mamun is the early leader in the all-around standings with 36.633 points, with her compatriot Yana Kudryavtseva in second at 36.582 points.
Son is the first South Korean to advance to a final in an individual discipline at the world championships. In 2007 and 2011, now-retired Shin Soo-ji made all-around finals, but not in individual apparatus, where gymnasts must be among the top eight to qualify for the finals.
At the 2010 world championships, Son ended up in 32nd place in the all-around event, and improved to 11th at the following worlds in 2011.
Then at the London Olympics last year, Son finished fifth in the all-around event, the best performance by a South Korean rhythmic gymnast. Son won four silver and three bronze medals during the 2013 FIG World Cup season, and also claimed gold medals in all-around, hoop and clubs at the Asian championships in June in Tashkent, Ukraine, to become the first South Korean to win any international title. Son is one of the most popular and visible athletes in South Korea, thanks to a series of appearances in television commercials.
Last year, she was voted national athlete of the year in a survey, ahead of more accomplished athletes, such as such as Olympic swimming gold medalist Park Tae-hwan and reigning Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na. (Yonhap News)