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[Asian Games] Rhythmic Gymnastics: South Korea's Son Yeon-jae crowned the Asian rhythmic gymnastics queen

Incheon, Oct. 3 -- A roaring applause broke out when the South Korean gymnastics "Tinker Bell" Son Yeon-jae stepped onto the highest place on the podium. 

Son responded with the same radiant smile that accompanied her performances earlier. Four years after her bronze medal in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, Son claimed an unquestionable gold with world-level performances in front of the crowd of 5,300 at the Namdong Gymnasium.

Son entered Thursday's final round with the highest scores in all apparatuses from the qualification stage. Following her in the second place was Deng Senyue from China, Son's long-time rival.

Son started off with her strongest apparatus, clubs, pulling off her signature move in which she dances with both clubs balanced in a cross on her head. As in the qualification round, she cut the 18-point line with her performance.

In the subsequent rotations Son performed ribbon and hoop, also scoring higher than 18 in both elements. Son distinguished herself from other contestants with not only mastery in handling the apparatus but also a smooth effortless flow in her overall routine. After obtaining 54.399 points from just the first three rotations, Son was able to secure her gold even after making a mistake in the last apparatus, the ball.

After the competition, Son reflected, "I learned a lot from training in Russia. There, I had a mock competition with world-class gymnasts almost everyday, and through that I was able to learn what I need to do in the competitions to get high scores."

Since her international debut in 2010, Son has gradually built her career up to be the leader in the Asian rhythmic gymnastics stage, grabbing multiple medals in international competitions. After placing fifth in the individual all-around final in the 2012 London Olympics, she won gold medals in the 2013 Asian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships and the 2014 Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Lisbon, Portugal.

Just a few days before the Incheon Asian Games, Son added another medal to her list by winning the bronze medal in hoop at the 2014 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships at Izmir, Turkey. With this, Son became the first Asian-born medalist in the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships.

Despite her achievements, the response for Son at home was not so warm. She was constantly compared with Kim Yu-na, who won the people's admiration as the "queen" of world figure skating. Even when Son won South Korea's first individual medal from the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, she was shadowed by Kim's gold from Vancouver Winter Olympics, which took place earlier in the same year.

However, Son stayed strong. "I have to admit there were times when I felt disheartened," said Son, "Nevertheless I felt that it was my part to do my best regardless of what people say." It was with this mindset that she finally achieved the gold medal. 

With her unrivaled performance in the individual final round, Son has proved herself the queen of Asian rhythmic gymnastics. With another medal added to her long list, Son now aims for the world.

Posted by Kim Young-won (AGNS) 


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