South Korean speed skater Noh Seon-yeong is competing at her third Winter Olympics in Russia this month, but she likely never felt the weight that she is carrying now.
When Noh, 24, took the ice at Adler Arena Skating Center for the women's 3,000 meters, the first of her three events in Sochi, she did so with her ailing brother, former short track world champion Noh Jin-kyu, on her mind.
Jin-kyu, 21, has been diagnosed with bone cancer in his left shoulder and has been prescribed chemotherapy. He first discovered a small, benign tumor last September and decided not to remove it until after the Sochi Olympics.
Noh, however, broke his left elbow and shoulder in a fall during a practice in January, ruling him out of the Olympics. It was also then that doctors discovered that the tumor had grown larger and malignant.
Since the revelation of Noh's conditions, his older sister has been frequently asked about her thoughts on her brother. Seon-yeong had kept mum on the issue, but on Saturday night, after finishing the 3,000ｍ race in 25th place, she finally opened up.
|Speed skater Noh Seon-yeong (Yonhap)|
Noh said she paid her brother one final visit before leaving for Russia, but he was asleep at the time. They did talk on the phone recently, and she said he made a specific request for a present.
"He asked me to bring him some souvenirs, but I said there really wasn't much to buy here," she said. "Then he told me, 'Bring me a medal.'"
Noh didn't come through for her brother on Saturday, finishing well out of contention in the 3,000m.
She was still under the weather after coming down with a cold during the pre-Olympic training in the Netherlands in late January.
Her armband came loose early in the race, too.
Noh said she feels she has a better shot winning a medal in the team pursuit event, with younger teammates Kim Bo-reum and Yang Shin-young.
"We're working on our strategies in team pursuit," Noh said. "I am going to try to take home a medal." (Yonhap)