Rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae took fifth place in the individual all-round final at the London Olympics on Saturday with 111.475 points. After the event, she told the press, "I can't believe the result. I’m happy because I've done my best."
In the qualifying round a day earlier, she became the first Korean rhythmic gymnast to advance to the Olympic final, ranking sixth with 110.300 points. In Saturday's 10-women final, she received 28.050 points in hoop (fourth place), 28.325 points in ball (third), 26.750 points in club (ninth), and 28.350 points in ribbon (third).
But for the mistake of missing both of the clubs during the competition, she could have become the first Asian to medal in this discipline at the Summer Games. Her total was only 0.225 points short of bronze-medalist Lyubov Cherkashin of Belarus (111.700 points). Gold medalist Evgeniya Kanayeva of Russia garnered 116.900 points, becoming the first rhythmic gymnast to successfully defend her Olympic title.
After making her mistake, Son realized she was likely out of medal contention. "I felt burdened by the high expectations placed on me," she said later.
Having opened a new chapter in the history of rhythmic gymnastics, which has long been dominated by Russia and countries in Eastern Europe, Son is already setting her sights on the next Olympics. "I'll try even harder to win a medal in four years' time," she said. She spent just a month in Korea this year due to her overseas training schedule, and is now hoping to take some rest after she returns to Seoul on Monday.