Michelle Kwan smiles at a press conference in Seoul, Thursday.
By Jung Min-ho
Two-time Olympic figure skating medalist Michelle Kwan, known to be Kim Yu-na’s role model, has advised Kim to find her passion in life.
“I think she is figuring out her path as she spends time in school and learns from her colleagues and friends. She might find other interests outside of skating if she hasn’t already,” Kwan said Friday in an interview with The Korea Times. “It’s going to be difficult. But you have to do something that you love doing.”
The board member of the 2013 PyeongChang Special Olympics held media interviews at Grand Hilton Hotel in Seoul, before she wrapped up her five-day visit. At the interview, the 31-year-old encouraged Kim to move forward with the lessons that she surely learned from the sport: “Hard work, dedication, discipline, falling and getting back up.”
“She needs to figure out what she wants to do. It does help to reach out to people who need help. For example, what she is doing with this Special Olympics. I saw her picture with Ban Ki-moon. I’m sure she is involved and maybe she will get more involved when she has more time with the U.N. I think she’s on her way,” Kwan said.” “Perhaps if she continues her schooling maybe she can become Dr. Kim in the future.”
When asked about the relationship she has developed with Kim, Kwan said the first encounter was in a bathroom 12 years ago as the dumbfounded young skater was surprised to see the superstar at that time. “Over the years, I’ve gotten to know her more than that,” Kwan said. “(As) a close friend, if she needs me, I can help her.”
America’s most decorated figure skater said challenges made her stronger and taught her a great deal of valuable life lessons, pointing out that overcoming challenges is what fascinates people about the Special Olympics.
“Once you understand the spirit of the Special Olympics, it is really empowering,” Kwan said. “And the athletes, when you understand and learn that they have overcome many obstacles such as prejudice, poverty, and sometimes physical handicaps,” Kwan said. “They really change the way I see the world.”
With a promise to come back to Korea to do more for the Special Olympics in PyeongChang to be held from Jan 19 to Feb. 5 next year, Kwan left for the airport.
The 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games will feature seven sports and 59 sub-events. With the motto, “Together we can,” 3,300 athletes and coaches from 113 countries are expected to participate.