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Mother drives distance of 10 circumnavigations to nurture skaters

Mother drives distance of 10 circumnavigations to nurture skaters

Posted December. 26, 2013 02:24,   


Lee Ok-gyeong, 47, misunderstood that figure skating is the only competition in skating sport. It was due to the melodrama comics “Love Aranghwese,” which she repeatedly read during her school years. The main character in the comics performed a seven-spin jump, a skill even the "Figure Queen” Kim Yu-na, 23, is not capable of performing.

Until the time when she recommended her elder daughter Park Seung-joo, 23, and younger daughter Seung-hui, 21, who were attending Sohwa Elementary School in Suwon, to join the school’s skating team, she naturally thought that they would engage in figure skating in the team. One day she visited the school, and was completely surprised. Her two daughters, who she had believed would be practicing gracious jumping skills as in the comics, were only skating along the track of the rink.

Lee said, “Even up until then, I thought that only after a skater builds up some skills, then she would be allowed to perform figure skating. I only learned later that skating sport competitions include short track skating and speed skating as well.” Her son, Se-yeong, 20, also naturally followed suit of his elder sisters.

The three siblings who thus became skaters will participate in Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia as members of the Korean national skating team in February next year. It is the first time ever in Korea’s sports history that sisters and brother take part in an Olympic event together. When this reporter interviewed Lee at her residence in Hwaseong City, Gyeonggi Province, she said, “I recommended them to do skating because they loved it so much, but I never expected this would happen. I am so happy these days that I feel like I am full even when I skip meals.”

○ 400,000 km-long driving journey reflects all her efforts

“Looking back, it was a very happy period back then. But if I am ordered to repeat the life again, I would not be able to.” After the sisters and brother started their athletic careers in earnest, Lee also had tough time and made painstaking efforts. Since her husband Park Jin-ho, 53, was an office worker, she had to do all driving by herself. She drove her children by her mini car Matiz back and forth from Suwon where she would live to Gwacheon Ice Rink every single day.

Lee said, “I woke up at around 4:30 a.m., brought the kids to Gwacheon Ice Rink, for morning exercise, before taking them to school. After school, I took them to Gwacheon Ice Rink again.” Children often had to eat breakfast in the car, brushed teeth and washed at an expressway service area, before going to school. Lee said, “All the athletic skaters would make efforts to this degree. I think my children also learned patience at young ages and overcame difficult times.”

Afterwards, Lee moved to Bundang in Seongnam City, and Mokdong in Seoul. Around that time, the elder daughter Seung-joo changed her sport from short track skating to speed skating. Seung-hui and Se-yeong, who engage in short track, went to a rink near her home, but she had to drive Seung-joo to Taeneung Ice Rink in Seoul, which is equipped with speed skating track.

Having junked her Matiz mini car, she bought a Carnival minivan, and traveled back and forth to and from the ice rink near her home and Taeneung Ice Rink. Lee said, “On a certain day, I drove on Gyeongbu Expressway six times. As I drove my children for 10 years, I realized the mileage of my car had exceeded 400,000 kilometers already. The 400,000 km-long journey is the exact reflection of my children’s path towards joining the national team.” This distance equals 10 circumnavigations of the world. Once in a while, I drive the 10-year-old Carnival to carry my children even today. But unlike in the past, the car gets stalled occasionally.

○ `My children, enjoy the festival as much as you can`

Seung-hui, who was considered a rising star in short track skating since young, won two bronze medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Her participation at the Sochi event will be her second challenge at Olympic games. Se-yeong ranked second in the qualifying competition for short track skating, which was held early this year, to win a berth to Sochi.

Seung-joo confirmed her participation in the Sochi Olympics only recently. After joining the national team through the National Speed Skating Championships in late October, she participated at the ISU World Cup, which ended recently, to win the ticket for the Russian event.

Lee said, “I was anxious due to Seung-joo until the last minute, but we have got good results. Seung-hui, who already participated in the Vancouver Olympics, said ‘I learned why Olympics are a feast of humanity through my attendance at the Olympics.’ I hope that Seung-joo and Se-yeong, who are participating in an Olympic event for the first time, can enjoy the festival as much as they are pleased, rather than becoming too ambitious about results.”

“In the women’s 500-meter short track competition, there is the strong contender, Wang Meng of China. I have a hope that Seung-hui will defeat Wang Meng at least once,” Lee said, smiling.