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Will Skate Champion Return to Form?

Posted September. 16, 2006 03:50,   

한국어

When I called inline roller skater Kwok Chae-i, 19, of Anyang City to schedule an interview, her first greeting was unexpectedly casual. My impression that she is rude, however, disappeared five minutes after I met with her at a roller skating rink in Anyang on September 14.

Her rare first name, Kwok, made her more famous. Kwok won a silver medal and a bronze medal at the World Roller Speed Skating Championship held in Anyang on September 10. It was her first time participating in the senior section (over 17 years old), but the results were disappointing considering her reputation as a junior player. Does it mean the “Kwok Gust” was over?

When she was fourteen years old, she won the first gold medal in Korea’s inline skating history at the 2001 World Championship held in France. Her good looks were a plus to her success. An online fan club was formed in September of 2002, and her popularity came to a climax when she won two gold medals, two silver medals, and one bronze medal at the 2004 World Championship in Italy. She was swamped by requests for interviews and commercials.

Early in 2005, she was surprised to find herself too confident and self-conceited. “I was skipping training with too many requests for interviews. But I was thinking I could win the first place even though I skipped training. With a sudden sense of crisis, I told my coach (Park Seong-il) I would concentrate on training.”

There was another hard time. In the winter of the same year, she agonized over her career: whether to enter college or to join a pro team. She wanted both but chose a pro team to participate in the 2006 World Championship. However, she did not make good records after neglecting her winter training and was behind Woo Hyo-sook, 20, of Cheongju City.

She even had injuries just before the Championship. “I rarely tumble down, only once a year. But in July, I rolled over three times a month.” She had her finger and teeth broken.

Trying To Do Her Best As a Challenger –

“The pressure was harder to deal with than my injured body. My goal was to finish within the first five in the 15,000m. I finished second and am satisfied with the result. I regained my self-confidence.”

Kwok is now training not as a champion, but as a challenger. “I think there is no end. The senior section is really challenging. I feel I may become a champion again if I do my best.”



kimsk@donga.com