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Promising rhythmic gymnast Son to train in Russia

Posted December. 01, 2010 11:44,   


Promising rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae has selected a Russian coach and will spend most of next year training in Russia, a powerhouse in her sport.

She will sign an exclusive one-year contract with Jelena Lipyordova, who coached her in Russia for a month prior to the Guangzhou Asian Games. Through intensive training of more than ten hours daily under Lipyordova, Son, 15, won a bronze medal at the Asiad, the best showing for Korea in the sport.

Son will leave for Russia late this month.

Moon Dae-hoon of IB Sports, Son’s management agency, said Tuesday, “The Russian gymnastics association signed a coaching agreement with Jelena Lipyordova before next year’s world championships, and the only remaining step is signing the agreement.”

There have been training camps for the Korean rhythmic gymnastics team in Europe as well as non-regular individual training, but Son is the first Korean in the sport to get a coach under a year-long exclusive contract.

Her training in Russia is expected to raise her stock higher. If she stays there, she could regularly compete in the FIG World Cup series and earn bonus points. Most in the rhythmic gymnastics community say elevating her World Cup rank through regular competition will increase her visibility among the global referee community and help her scores.

Son said she cannot develop further if she keeps going back and forth to Russia. “I was angry that European players earned higher scores than me though they didn’t perform as well as me in previous World Cups in Russia,” she said.

Leaving a deep impression on Asian referees in Guangzhou, she plans to gain recognition from international referees before next year’s world championships in France, which could earn her a berth in the 2012 London Summer Olympics. She competed in three events this season but will enter at least six World Cup events next season.

Another advantage of going to Russia is that Son can learn from 2008 Olympic champion Evgenia Kanaeva and other gymnasts daily at the Russian national training camp in Novogorsk. “I’ll work harder if I stay around Kanaeva, a top competitor,” Son said.

“Thank you for saying Yeon-jae’s era has come. I feel pressure but would like to definitely repay what I owe.”