SPORTS

Korea's two leading short track stars say PyeongChang 2018 pressure no problem

By Alex Park
  • Published : Jul 25, 2017 - 12:34
  • Updated : Jul 25, 2017 - 12:34

South Korea's two leading stars in women's short track speed skating said Tuesday that they are not concerned about the pressure of satisfying home fans at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Shim Suk-hee and Choi Min-jeong have dominated the women's competition in recent years and they will be considered heavy favorites at the first Winter Olympics in South Korea next year. Shim, 20, won three medals at her Olympic debut in 2014, while Choi is a two-time world overall champion.

Although they will face pressure when they compete in front of home fans, Shim said she is ready to handle it.

South Korean short track speed skater Shim Suk-hee speaks at a media event at the National Training Center in Seoul on July 25, 2017. (Yonhap)
"People say enormous media attention puts us under pressure, but I feel thankful that they have big expectations," Shim said at a media day event at the National Training Center in Seoul. "Instead of feeling pressure or concern, I just focus on training so that I don't regret (my performance at the Games)."

At the Sochi Games in Russia, Shim won gold in the 3,000m relay, and took silver in the 1,500m and bronze in the 1,000m. At the PyeongChang Games, Shim said she wants to claim gold medals in individual events. She finished the 2016-17 season as world No. 1 in the 1,500m.

"At the Sochi Games, I was young and had no experience," she said. "At the PyeongChang Olympics, I want to win individual events. I want to get results that I can congratulate myself."

Choi, who will make her Olympic debut in PyeongChang, said she also wants to stand at the top of the podium. The 18-year-old was No. 2 in the 1,000m and No. 5 in the 500m in the International Skating Union's 2016-17 season rankings.

"Last season, I had a good result in the 500m, but I also felt that I still need to improve," she said. "These days, I'm concentrating on improving my start, power and acceleration, the things that were considered my weaknesses."

Shim and Choi may go head-to-head in individual event at the PyeongChang Games, but in relay competitions, the two short trackers said they are ready to help the team. On the women's team, they are with Kim A-lang, Lee Yu-bin and Kim Ye-jin.

"The relay is the only event which all of us can smile in the end, so we really want to win," Shim said. "I hope young skaters who will make their Olympic debut don't suffer from nerves and perform well." (Yonhap)