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Grand finale with no regret

Posted February. 05, 2014 07:08,   


In whatever area you work, it is difficult to be the best. It requires tremendous efforts as well as luck. Paradoxically, there is one who has chosen the tough path of reaching the top again to come down from the top: Korean figure skater Kim Yuna (24) aka her nickname “Queen Yuna.” The reigning Olympic champion will participate in the Sochi Winter Olympics opening this Friday.

She calmly revealed her feelings about the upcoming Olympics in a series of press conferences last year. “Though many people are talking about me winning the second Olympic title, personally, I am not focusing on it. Whatever result I get, I’ll happily accept it.” “Since I have kept on the same training every day for the last 18 years, I just hope now that time flies.”

Kim has done her best. In fact, she has exceeded expectations of the Korean people. The moment of joy four years ago in the Vancouver Winter Olympics is still vivid in the Korean people’s memory. After achieving her dream of winning an Olympic gold medal, she wanted to retire, but in order to give Korean junior skaters a chance to participate in the Olympics she put off her next dream of living an ordinary life. She made a huge comeback after two-year absence in competition by winning her second world title in the 2013 World Championship. With her victory, Korea has secured three entries to the women’s figure skating at the Sochi Olympics.

It is not easy to figure out the right timing for a farewell. In other words, retirement is a tough decision to make and being retired with no regret is even tougher. Many sports stars are involved in doping scandals because they lost the timing of retirement being mesmerized by wealth and fame.

Alex Rodriguez, a celebrated MLB baseball player, was suspended for all games this season due to an alleged use of illegal substance. Lance Armstrong, an American cyclist who won the Tour de France seven consecutive times, is expelled from the sport for good because he was found to have been involved in a sophisticated doping program two years ago. These are the cases in point where celebrated athletes chose to use illegitimate methods to maintain the top position.

The cases of Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa, professional golfers of Sweden and Mexico who dominated the U.S. LPGA tour and suddenly retired at the top are in stark contrast.

In 2018, Korea will host the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. But there will be no free entry given to a host nation for the figure skating and ice hockey competitions, which are usually considered the highlight of Winter Olympics. Thus, some raise concerns that a festival taking place in our territory may turn into a “festival of others.” In particular, many are concerned about “post-Kim Yuna.” In the worst case, no Korean woman figure skater may compete in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Then, will Korea cry for help to Kim again in 2018? It is not even a viable option because considering her age by then, it is as if asking an over 60-year-old man to sever the military for the third time.

There is the “10,000 hour rule,” claiming that the key to success in any field is a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. Given her daily practice of 8 hours, she has practiced roughly over 30,000 hours to be the best in the world. The so-called “Park Seri kids,” professional golfers who started playing golf when Korean pro golfer Park Seri dominated the LPGA tour, are taking the lead in the U.S. LPGA tour these days. The same may go for figure skating. Kim Yuna has proven that a Korean figure skate can reach the top in the world. Now the ball is in the court of “Kim Yuna kids.”

Parting is the way of nature. Korean poet Lee Hyeong-ki said in his poem titled “The Falling of Blossoms,” “The one who leaves knowing when to leave looks beautiful even from behind. My love that endured the passion of one season of spring is falling. Falling blossoms. Enclosed by the blessing of farewells, it is time to leave.” Making a great finale at the top would be what every sport star dreams of. Kim has made it clear numerous times that the Sochi Winter Olympics will be her “real retirement stage.”

Kim Yuna! You have worked so hard. I wish you make a grand finale with no regret.