Posted February. 27, 2010 09:18,
Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na shed tears after her free skating performance yesterday in the Vancouver Winter Olympics at Pacific Coliseum.
Kim has shed tears countless times over the past 13 years since she began the sport, but this was her first time after her performance in a competition in front of the audience. Her tears seemed to signify a sigh of relief and satisfaction over her historic gold medal-winning performance.
Kim overwhelmed the estimated 15,000 spectators with a flawless performance. To Gershwins exuberant Concerto in F, she carried out her triple lutz-triple toe loop combination, triple flip, and a double axeldouble toe loopdouble loop combination without a mistake.
After making three successful jumps that are considered the most difficult, Kim had nothing to fear. Spectators were mesmerized by her impeccable skating and gave a standing ovation when Kim finished after four minutes and nine seconds.
When her score flashed on the scoreboard, Kim shouted Oh, my God while waiting for the score with her coach Brian Orser. The judges gave Kim a score of 150.06, and combined with her short program record of 78.50, Kim received a combined 228.56 points. This earned her not just the gold, but also a new world mark in womens figure skating.
On the winners podium, her eyes welled with tears as Koreas national anthem was played.
Everybody expected Kim to win the gold. Enormous pressure often leads to disappointing results, however. Of the five previous figure skaters who led in the short program in the Olympics, only one had won the gold medal: Kristi Yamaguchi of the U.S. She won the gold at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France by claiming first place both in the short program and free skating.
At the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, Michelle Kwan, Kims childhood idol, was favored but settled for the silver. Countless other athletes have also failed to win a medal in the Olympics despite being world champions.
Kim was not to be another washout, however. The Olympic jinx never materialized in her dominating path to the gold medal. With her sky-high confidence and boldness backed by steady training, she clinched Koreas first Olympic gold in figure skating.
I felt less burdened than before. I cleared my mind and just entrusted everything to Heaven, Kim told reporters after the competition. Experts say thorough preparation has allowed her to be so confident and calm.
In the short program Wednesday, Kim could have been unnerved when her archrival, Mao Asada of Japan, who performed ahead of her, broke her personal best. Kim never flinched, however, and showed her confidence with a smile.
Kim also became the first female skater to achieve a grand slam by winning the world championship (2009), the Grand Prix Final (2006, 2007 and 2009), the Four Continents Championships, and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Before Kim, many Korean figure skaters competed in the Winter Olympics beginning in 1968 in Grenoble, France, where Lee Gwang-yeong took part in the mens competition and Kim Hye-gyeong and Lee Hyeon-ju in the womens.
Kim Yu-na also broke her own world record in free skating with a score of 150.06, higher than her previous best of 133.95 set in last years Grand Prix event in Paris. Her combined score of 228.56 also broke her previous world record of 210.03.
Korean President Lee Myung-bak sent Kim a congratulatory message yesterday, saying, Your hard work has bore fruit. Your passion and fortitude shown in the pursuit of victory has touched all of the Korean people.
Your gold is all the more valuable since you set world records in the short program and free skating as well as the combined score. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to you, the heroine of the Vancouver Olympics, for enhancing the reputation of Korea and the Korean people.