A record breaking out-of-this-world performance by Kim YuNa to win the Olympics Gold Medal for Figure Skating. When Will Singapore have a foreign talent like Kim?
Subject: Kim Yuna is a champion for all time
Kim Yuna is a champion for all time
The 19-year-old Olympic gold medalist from South Korea displays a
balance of athleticism and artistry that sets her apart from other
February 27, 2010|By Philip Hersh
Reporting from Vancouver, Canada — It was nearly midnight Thursday,
the day of triumph running into the day after, and both Kim Yuna and
Brian Orser already were looking at the days ahead.
The skater and her coach were in a car going from post-competition
doping control to a news conference that would be aired live in South
Korea, where half the country's 48 million people already had watched
TV broadcasts of their national hero becoming their first Olympic
figure skating champion.
Kim Yuna brings a whole nation down to its knee.
SEOUL - For five minutes, all of South Korea held its breath - and then broke out into a deafening stampede of cheers as their queen, Kim Yuna, made figure skating history.
The entire nation watched from offices, subway trains and packed restaurants Friday as Kim added "Olympic champion" to her list of titles with a flawless, joyful free skate in Vancouver on Thursday (Friday morning, Singapore time). As tears of relief flowed down Kim's face, there was not a dry eye in sight back home.
"I felt a lump in my throat when I saw Yuna crying," said Lee Ji Soo, 24, watching the competition at a rink where Kim once trained.
"It was overwhelming," said teary student Chung Jay Chul, 19, watching at a Seoul hospital where doctors and patients stopped to see Kim skate.
The Vancouver Olympics have been historic for the South Koreans, who won their first medals in speedskating in addition to the usual collection from short-track speedskating.
But it was Kim's bid for the figure skating gold that had the nation on edge. All week, all anyone could talk about was Kim and her rivalry with Japan's Mao Asada. Would Yuna cave in under the pressure? Would Mao land her high-scoring triple axel?
The nation came to a standstill for 168 seconds when Kim skated her short programme earlier in the week. Trading dipped at the stock exchange, office workers abandoned their computers as everyone gathered around TV sets to watch.
"Yuna: Perfect. South Korea is overjoyed," read one headline the following day as she took the lead.
Kim is South Korea's biggest sports star, with US$8 million ($11.2 million) in endorsements and the kind of adulation reserved for royalty. You can eat Yuna bread, wash your clothes with Yuna fabric softener, drink Yuna milk. The crown earrings she wears have made jewellers J Estina a killing.
She has made experts of South Koreans largely unfamiliar with figure skating until she turned it into a local obsession. Hundreds flocked to the main train station here hours before the free skate programme to stake out a spot in front of large-screen TVs, screaming, "Go queen Yuna!"
They waited, hands clasped in prayer, biting their nails. The nervousness was palpable as she skated out and got into position for her free skate to George Gershwin. There were screams and claps every time Kim landed her jumps cleanly. Her final flourish had an entire nation up on its feet cheering and trading hugs. Confetti fluttered in the air at news that she set a new world record again, a score Asada came nowhere near touching.
President Lee Myung Bak couldn't have said it any better, in his congratulatory message to the Olympic champion. It read: "Kim embodies the Korean saying, 'A dragon rises from the stream'." AP