PyeongChang Special Olympics goodwill ambassador Kim Yu-na, left, poses with Na Kyung-won, center, chairwoman of the Organizing Committee, and American figure skater Michelle Kwan, a board member, at a press conference in Seoul, Thursday. / Yonhap
By Jung Min-ho
Reigning Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na and Michelle Kwan, America’s most-decorated skater, stood together Thursday to promote the 2013 PyeongChang Special Olympics World Winter Games that will run from Jan. 19 to Feb. 5 next year.
“I’m so glad to be here again,” Kwan said at a media conference at the Press Center in central Seoul. “Among the many offers that I got over the past few years, the one that changed the way I see the world is the Special Olympics. It opened my eyes to see the passion of the athletes that have disabilities.”
The three Special Olympics board of directors, Ossie Kilkenny, Loretta Claiborne, and Kwan shared their vision of the Games that has been relatively unacknowledged by the public with the reporters, giving the message, “Korea will have a new vision after the event.”
“It is such an honor for me to be here with my long-time role model and friend Kwan for this great opportunity,” Kim, a goodwill ambassador, said. When asked if she has any plans for an ice show with Kwan at the closing ceremony, the 21-year-old said, she will positively consider it, raising hopes that the two international figure skating stars might again perform together. They hit the ice in 2010 for “All That Skate LA.”
At the conference Claiborne, the first Special Olympics athlete to be elected to the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, also shared her passion for the event. She said holding the Special Olympics means so much for many athletes who long for the opportunity to participate. She emphasized that physical disabilities are surmountable challenges saying, “We can be anything that we choose to be."
The Games are to be held at Korea’s winter sports hub, PyeongChang, and 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. Korea’s Lee Seung-chae will take part in the alpine skiing. Also, since chairwoman of the Olympic Organizing Committee Na Kyung-won said that it will send an official invitation to North Korea, the fans might be able to see participants from the Stalinist state.