Son Yeon-jae to Perform in Gymnastics Gala as Popularity Soars

Son Yeon-jae Son Yeon-jae

Son Yeon-jae's feet have hardly touched the ground since she became the first Korean to make the Olympic final in the individual rhythmic gymnastics event at the 2012 London Olympics. In a sponsorship signing ceremony with sports brand Fila on Wednesday, Son said she also has a gala show planned for early October in Seoul.

"I felt proud and grateful that rhythmic gymnastics generated a broader fan base in Korea through the London Olympic Games. As watching it live in the stadium is a whole different experience from watching it on TV, I hope many fans will come and enjoy the show," she said.

Son's management agency IB Sports said the show is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 6 and 7. A similar gala featuring some of the world's top talent, including back-to-back Olympic gold medalist Evgenia Kanaeva of Russia, Ukraine's Alina Maksymenko and Son, was held at Korea University in Seoul in June last year.

Son had a bronze medal within her reach in London, but due to an unfortunate mistake in club, she had to settle for fifth place. Despite missing out on the podium, Son's performance was enough to impress the audience and she received a standing ovation afterwards.

Son's impressive performance at the Olympics boosted her status in the sport. She was invited to the Serie A Championships in Italy in November with her airfare, accommodation and meals all paid for by the event organizers. There, she will join a star-studded list of entrants.

"After Son put in some stellar performances in London, she's been getting invitations to compete in various European countries. But as her schedule is quite packed, she will only compete in Italy this year," IB Sports said,

After Italy, Son will fly to Russia to work on programs for the new season with her coach Elena Nefedova. "I won't change the programs for all four events, but I'll probably have to devise some new ones for hoop and ball as I used the same programs from last year. I'm thinking of integrating ballet into the new ones," said Son.

The sponsorship deal signing event attracted over 90 reporters, reflecting Son's soaring popularity. Since her return to Korea, she has been busy with various commitments including TV appearances.

"I ate some good food and watched a few films with friends after coming back to Korea. But because so many people recognize me on the streets, I feel a little uncomfortable hanging around outside nowadays."

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 30, 2012 09:52 KST