Despite heavy-heartedly settling for second place at the Sochi Olympics in the ladies’ figure skating ― one of the most controversial and criticized results of this year’s Winter Olympics ― at home, the Korean figure skating queen Kim Yu-na is still recognized as Team Korea’s athlete of the year, alongside two-time speed skating gold medalist Lee Sang-hwa.
At the 19th annual Coca-Cola Sports Award ceremony on Wednesday, Kim and Lee were awarded with the Grand Prize plaque for their individual accomplishments at the 2014 Winter Olympics. This marks Kim’s second Grand Prize award at the annual event after taking home the win in 2007 alongside gold medalist swimmer Park Tae-hwan.
|Figure skater Kim Yu-na (center) and speed skater Lee Sang-hwa (third from left) pose alongside other Team Korea Olympic athletes after winning the Grand Prize at this year’s 19th annual Coca-Cola Sports Award during a ceremony held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul on Wednesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)|
“Honestly, I think there were many other athletes who did a much better job than I did,” said Kim during the awards ceremony held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul on Wednesday. “To be honored with grand prize here even though I received the silver medal at the Olympics is very humbling.”
The two athletes and friends had a rare chance to share the spotlight together and they were asked to comment to the media regarding their personal thoughts about each other as athletes.
“On the ice, Kim Yu-na is such a beautiful performer and I really think the term ‘goddess’ is the one word I would use to best describe her,” Lee said with a smile as she looked at a blushing Kim.
“I have actually gone to the rink and tried out speed skating several times, so I know firsthand how difficult it is and how hard she had to work,” Kim responded.
Both Olympic athletes added that they were uncertain about their future plans and that for the time being, they were looking to take a break from competition for a while. Lee, who won her second straight gold medal in the 500 meters, stated that she has not yet decided whether or not she would make her third straight Olympic appearance at the next Winter Games in PyeongChang.
Kim earlier announced her retirement from competitive figure skating after she concluded her final performance in Sochi. On Wednesday, she said she had yet to make any long-term plans for her future and was looking to “enjoy (her) freedom from the pressures of competition.”
Other notable athletes who were also honored at the award ceremony include skaters Park Seung-hi and Shim Suk-hee, and freestyle skier Choi Jae-woo.
By Julie Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org