Rhythmic Gymnast Son Yeon-jae Retires with 'No Regrets'

  • By Lee Soon-heung

    March 06, 2017 11:51

    Rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae announced her retirement at a press conference on Saturday at the Taeneung National Training Center in Seoul, bringing the curtain down on a 17-year career.

    Son remained collected and calm throughout the conference and even smiled at times. "I began rhythmic gymnastics at the age of 5, and it has been my entire life since then. So many people have supported and cheered for me [during my career], and I am so grateful and happy for that," she said.

    Son Yeon-jae smiles during a press conference in Seoul on Saturday. /Newsis

    Reading from a speech she had prepared, Son said, "As an athlete, I was most afraid of two things: feeling sorry for myself, and having regrets after leaving the sport. I just trained hard and focused on moving forward. Thankfully, I have no regrets."

    She said the most memorable competitions she took part in were the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, in which she won a bronze medal, and the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, where she finished fourth. The Rio Olympics, which became her final official competition, "was most meaningful event to me," she said. 

    Throughout her career, Son occasionally faced a backlash from critics who felt she had received more of the spotlight than she deserved. "I know some had negative views of me, but that only prompted me to work harder and prove my worth. So, I am also grateful to such critics," she said.

    For now, Son plans to focus on her studies and give herself time to think about what she can do for the sport. "Through tedious training and practicing of routines, I gained a firm belief that effort does eventually pay off in some form. I want to be someone with inner strength, someone who's gentle in appearance, but sturdy in spirit,"

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