Yun Sungbin made history at PyeongChang 2018, and won the hearts of the host nation when he became the first athlete from the Republic of Korea, and indeed the whole of Asia, to win gold in the skeleton. Looking back at his achievements a year later, he tells olympic.org that he hopes they will provide a springboard for others to follow in his footsteps.
“I can remember everything from PyeongChang 2018, down to the smallest detail,” says Yun. “However, if I had to choose only one moment that stands out, I would pick the fourth run, which was when I clinched my gold medal. That was the moment that all my efforts paid off.”
The skeleton star says that his victory has led to increased interest in a previously overlooked sport in the Republic of Korea, but believes he will need to continue his run of successes in order to bring more young athletes into skeleton.
“Traditionally, skeleton is not a sport that Korean people have been familiar with. Before PyeongChang, most people did not even know what skeleton was. It’s very gratifying for me that since the PyeongChang Winter Olympics many people have started to take an interest in my sport.
“My results in PyeongChang have helped people to get to know skeleton. However, we’re still not seeing many people actively participating in the sport, and I think it will take some time to expand grassroots participation. If I keep getting good results, I believe more and more young athletes will be motivated to give skeleton a try.
Despite the inevitable acclaim which greeted his gold medal a year ago, Yun does not feel that his status as an Olympic champion has changed him significantly. “I don’t feel much change in my life after PyeongChang,” he says. “I just feel very content with my result. I’m always grateful when people recognise me, but it doesn’t happen that often.”
And for others looking to follow in his footsteps and make it onto the Olympic podium, he has the following words of advice: “Taking part in the Olympics is the ultimate dream of every athlete. Everyone gives their greatest effort to do well. So, to achieve good results at the Olympic Games, you have to go the extra mile in terms of the effort and preparation you put in. Preparing just as much as others won’t get you the medal you want.”
Bring on Beijing
In terms of his own Olympic aspirations, he is now focusing his attentions on preparations for the next Winter Games in 2022, determined to show the world that he can repeat his PyeongChang 2018 achievements without the benefit of home advantage.
“There’s no doubt that having PyeongChang as my home track helped me a lot, but I do not want to think I could not win in Beijing because it is not my home. Based on my experience in PyeongChang, I’ll be preparing for Beijing in every way I can to ensure I have the best possible chance of winning.”