Get to know the Athlete Role Models: Chun Lee-Kyung
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a list of Athlete Role Models (ARMs) who will support the young athletes going to the 2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games from 12 to 21 February 2016 in Lillehammer, Norway. They are presented individually through a short interview. Today: Chun Lee-Kyung
How / why did you start your sport?
I was not born healthy. I was a premature baby born with hypertrophic pyloric stenosis and weighed a mere 1.7kg. The doctors were concerned that my growth might be stunted, and he advised my parents to pick up physical activities earlier than other children in order for me to grow up as healthy as other normal children.
For that reason, my parents, in the hope that their daughter could live a healthy life, took me to a swimming class when I was a toddler, a registered swimming programme with the YMCA, and that was how I started my first workout at the age of five.
The motivation to begin skating was a two-year-old brother who learned to skate as I began to learn to skate. I wanted to learn speed skating too like my brother because it looked so much fun and you can go faster, but the coach was recommending me figure skating because my ankle was too weak. Two years had gone, flowed meaninglessly, and I always had regrets about speed skating. Two years later, my parents finally acceded to my demand. Like that I was starting, so I wanted to do speed skating.
What achievements are you most proud of in your sporting career?
I am the only person who has four golds and one bronze in the Olympic Winter Games in Korea. The record will be broken by someone someday, but I think, I've done what I loved and had a pretty good and successful life as an athlete.
What achievements are you most proud of outside your sporting career?
I am proud of becoming a mum.
Favourite moment at the Olympics? A special memory of one of your participations?
My favourite moment at the Olympics happened in 1998 Nagano, Japan, where I overtook a Chinese athlete by a split second to win the race.
What made you want to participate in the Youth Olympic Games?
The Youth Olympic Games are being held in Lillehammer, where I won my first gold medal. Naturally Lillehammer will always have a special place in my heart. Also, to feel the skating passion from the young people transports me back in time to when I used to feel young and free and skating was my life. I want to feel that thrill and youth again through the Youth Olympic Games.
What do you like most about the Youth Olympic Games concept?
I like the fact that it's not about the medals, but that they're going to be learning about the worth of going to the Olympics. The real Olympic mentality that they'll be gaining from this is going to change the concept of the game for them. Teenagers these days are so absorbed in computers and instant gratification that through the YOG they will learn to appreciate hard work and know the importance of a healthy body and mind.
What are you looking forward to the most in Lillehammer 2016?
To see the excitement of the young people who are participating in this great event that will forever be moulded into their hearts, mind, body and soul. There's something really amazing that grows inside you as an athlete when you are competing with the best athletes in the world. I look forward to seeing this transpire in the young participants and the look of pride from their parents.
What's next for you in your career?
I have just accepted a position as the National Coach for the Singapore Skating Association. Obviously Singapore isn't the most ideal place to train for skating, but I will do my best and hope to send one of my skaters to the Youth Olympic Games in the future.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies are cooking and making furniture when I am free.