Sound of silence for Yu-na
Of all the things that Olympian Kim Yu-na has done in the past two years or so, there wasn’t anything more agreeable than her announcement Monday that she would return to competitive skating.
With hair cut short and dyed light brown, she spoke openly about how difficult it was for her to find motivation to skate after achieving her lifetime goal of winning the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. She also said, both forcefully and plaintively at the same time, that she was burdened by the public expectation on her as a gold medallist.
After much frank talk, Kim, 21, said that she will compete at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and asked the public to see her as just one of the athletes representing Korea. And then she will retire, and go on the path to become a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Finally, a clear-cut position is out. For many fans who have speculated a zillion times over whether they would see the graceful technician on ice once again on a competitive stage, the news was like long-awaited rain. Never mind that a recent spate of controversies over a beer commercial, and allegations over the sincerity of her teaching practice at a girls’ high school in May could have prompted her to take a firm position.
As a senior in physical education at Korea University, Kim has to fulfill a one-month teaching practice, which she did under much attention from the press. One professor openly remarked that she was putting on a show, and the two parties are now in entangled in a lawsuit over that remark.
The iconic figure skater also said that she will try to become an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member. There are about 115 IOC members that comprise of 70 individual members, 15 former athlete members, 15 National Olympic Committee representatives and 15 International Sports Federation representatives.
Among these categories, Kim would have the best chance as a former athlete member. Currently, the 2004 gold medallist in taekwondo Moon Dae-sung is an IOC member under this category. Because he became a member in 2008, he will serve through 2016. And because the IOC only allows one former athlete member per country, Kim has a better chance to apply after 2016.
Thus, her competing and possibly taking the podium at 2014 Sochi Games would position her favorably to become an IOC member. Kim has shown her grace through international sports diplomacy as part of South Korea’s bid to bring the 2018 Winter Olympic Games to PyeongChang. She was graceful on stage, her English near immaculate and her presence golden.
If she does eventually become an IOC member, her presence beside IOC member and Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee will greatly buoy the country’s image.
Her clear position came too late ― at least for my taste ― but then again, the fault here may well lie in the ignorant masses’ greed to know everything about a public figure and their unrealistic desire to put the public figures to the highest moral bar. Kim has admitted that after earning gold in Vancouver, she couldn’t find a bigger goal and that she experienced an emotional letdown. She said she found inspiration from younger skaters to return to competition.
This belated confession, however late, is appreciated. It allows us to understand why there was such dillydallying on her part in committing herself fully either to a competitive career or a professional one by performing in ice shows.
Her frank admission will also help those who may be trapped in a similar situation. So I guess it’s better late than never.