March 05, 2014 11:14
Retired figure skater Kim Yu-na's eyes swelled up when a three-minute video clip containing messages of encouragement and cheers from fans played on a large screen at an event in Seoul on Tuesday to celebrate her career as a skater.
"Each one of the messages was so touching. Thank you so much," said Kim, an Olympic gold medalist who added a silver medal in the ladies singles at the recently ended Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Kim was with 170 fans who were lucky enough to get selected by a random draw to attend the event. Hundreds more turned up to catch a glimpse of the figure skating star. Two other Korean skaters who competed in Sochi, Kim Hae-jin and Park So-youn, were also present.
Jun Hyun-moo, who hosted the event, asked Kim whether she had been having any second thoughts about hanging up her skates. "I don't have any regrets as I think I've done enough [in my sporting career]," she said.
Kim retired from competitive skating after 17 years and seven months as an athlete. Some fans were concerned after hearing the news that her body had taken too much of a beating from years of intensive training.
"After a medical checkup, I learned that my spine has slightly tilted to the left, but it's not that serious. It doesn't affect my daily life," said Kim.
On the judging controversy that erupted after Adelina Sotnikova of Russia was awarded the gold medal in Sochi, Kim remained calm.
"I was dumbfounded, but I was so happy that it was all over. I never looked back at the results," she said. She described the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the Sochi Games and the 2013 World Championships in London, Ontario as the highlight of her career, because she performed flawlessly in those competitions.
Kim expressed her wish to take some time out and relax. "When I was an active athlete, I had to live everyday in a tense environment, training according to a tightly scheduled routine, and it was very stressful. I am happy that I can finally relax and enjoy my day," she said, adding that she still has a gala show scheduled for May.
She hinted at her plan to run for membership of the International Olympic Committee's Athletes' Commission in the future. "I now meet the eligibility requirements to serve as a member," she said.
Kim delivered gifts to her fans, including autographed CDs containing clips of her performances.
"I'm so grateful to all of my fans who have supported me over the years. I don't think I could have come this far without that support," she added.
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