CURRENTLY 19 years old, Son Yeon-jae (Fresh., Dept. of Sports & Leisure Studies) has become one of the most successful individuals of her age. Not only is she highly respected in her career, but she has also stolen hearts of millions as the “Fairy of rhythmic gymnastics” with her skills and beauty. In this exclusive interview, she shares how her concentration on specific goals in her career, along with her optimistic attitude, has helped her in becoming the person she is today. Son also shares the story of her life as an athlete and as another student of Yonsei. T
he Yonsei Annals : How does it feel to be a medalist of the 2013 Asian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships recently held at Uzbekistan?
Son : The 2013 Asian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships is one of the biggest competitions in the field of rhythmic gymnastics which many successful athletes from all over Asia spend months preparing for. I felt nervous and excited for the events at the same time. As it is important for rhythmic gymnasts to keep a high average of points throughout the four different events, which include hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon, I felt the need to constantly stay alert and practice as much as I can. Taking part in the competition was definitely a big challenge for me. Yet, the fact that I was able to take first place at the individual all-around finals made up for all the hardships I went through, and helped me gain more selfconfidence for future competitions.
Annals : How do you deal with challenges along your way?
Son : Nobody can be perfect, and results sometimes turn out to be less satisfactory than expected. I think it is important to perform well, but even more important to accept the results as they are and focus on turning my weaknesses into strengths. I always stay optimistic and such a mindset has helped me overcome unfavorable circumstances. Since I spend the majority of my training season in Russia, I got used to living away from my family and friends ever since I was young. I often did not have enough time to do things for myself, had difficulties with the time difference, and the cultural barriers were for sure intimidating. However, I was able to gain strength from the encouraging messages and the support I had back home. It was also my optimism that helped me forget about the difficulties of being alone in Russia, and just focus on my life as an athlete. As a result, I am now able to face each challenge as an opportunity to overcome my weaknesses and become a stronger and better individual.
Annals : Tell us about the happiest moment of your life.
Son : I cannot pick one specific moment as the happiest moment of my life. I would instead describe my life so far as a happy life overall. Just the fact that I can devote myself to rhythmic gymnastics, the thing that I love the most, offers me great happiness and satisfaction. One of the hardest things about being an athlete is staying on a strict diet and maintaining a good physique before important events. Yet, after each event, all of the athletes get together and talk about all sorts of things, while enjoying all the food we didn’t get to have for months. This, I believe is one of the small things in life that make me happy from time to time.
Annals : How would you describe yourself in one word?
Son : I think the word “concentration” describes me the best. I am the type of person who does not easily get distracted by external factors, but focuses on one specific goal. When I find myself thinking “I should really try this sometime,” then I do not hesitate to give it a try. I always concentrate on my goals and push myself until I reach a satisfactory outcome.
Annals : How has your life in Yonsei been, so far?
Son : Sadly, I was not able to participate in many student activities during my first semester as a freshman. Yet, now that this year’s season of rhythmic gymnastics is over, I am able to fully enjoy my life as a college student by meeting my classmates and sun-baes , taking classes with them, participating in various Yonsei activities, and so on. I also want to become a member of a student club in the near future and enjoy more school events, like the Yon-ko games, which I was in fact able to participate in this year. The games were a completely new experience for me, and seeing so many students cheering for the same team made me more proud to be a part of Yonsei. It was a college experience which I will never forget, and I am looking forward to making more memories as a Yonseian in the future.
Annals : Doesn’t the gaze of other students bother you when you are on campus?
Son : I have always wanted to become a student at Yonsei University, and the fact that I am able to freely walk around campus and take classes with other students is something I feel very thankful for. Of course, I do not consider myself more special or different than other students here at Yonsei. Instead, I think of myself as a normal undergraduate student who enjoys campus life like everyone else. As a rhythmic gymnast, however, I would still like to thank everyone who shows interest in my career as an athlete, and those who encourage me as fellow Yonseians.
Annals : What are your future plans as an athlete?
Son : My immediate goal for the future is to perform even better in the next Asian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships. I am also hoping to find a way to help those who dream of becoming gymnasts in the future and become a source of inspiration for those who support me and have encouraged me throughout my career.
Annals : A short message for our readers?
Son : I am very happy to be a student at Yonsei. Thank you all for supporting me, and I promise to always do my best in becoming a source of pride for Yonsei University.