Star figure skater Kim Yu-na has trained in a public ice rink at midnight or in the morning together with other skaters since February when the 17-year-old high school girl returned from Canada due to a hip injury. / Korea Times File
By Kang Seung-woo
Fan interest has been a big boost for Kim Yu-na on her way to stardom, but now the 17-year-old figure skater wants less attention.
The two-time defending World Grand Prix Final champion said on her own Web site on Thursday morning that the excessive interest from fans has made her feel bitter.
``When you find me practicing on an ice rink, please watch and root for me in your heart,'' said Kim, who finished third for the second straight year at the World Championships in March despite a hip injury.
``As fans make noise while moving in crowds to watch me skate, other skaters training on the ice cannot focus on their exercises. I really feel sorry for them.
``Concentration is the top priority in practice. Although I fully understand your cheering, please don't distract them.''
Since her sudden return to South Korea in February due to the injury, Kim, who was training in Canada, has practiced at the Lotte World Rink in Jamsil, Southern Seoul.
The rink is usually used for visitors during daytime, while figure skaters, including Kim, rent it around midnight for practice.
Despite the late time, Kim's fame has drawn many people to the site, and their loud shouting and taking pictures have hampered the athletes from exercising.
``Especially, I ask you not to use a flashlight. Even though it is a short time, the light is very, very dangerous to skaters,'' she said.
``The rink is the only place for us to train under comfortable conditions. Please help us to focus on it during the time.''
Meanwhile, Gunpo City, where Kim resides, has planned to build an ice rink for Kim, spurred by Kim's rival Mao Asada of Japan training in a state-of-the-art rink. But the budget for the rink of 90 billion won ($88 million) has made the plans stall.