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Kim relieved her skating career is over

Updated: 2014-02-22 07:57
By Reuters in Sochi, Russia ( China Daily)

Queen Yu-na's reign has finally come to an end and the South Korean could not be happier.

Her final competition before retirement did not have the fairytale ending Kim Yu-na or the millions of fans in her homeland wanted.

Instead of winning the gold medal, as she did in Vancouver four years ago, Kim was relegated to the silver medal position behind Russia's 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Thursday.

If she was disappointed at finishing second, Kim did not show it, smiling and clapping her hands at the flower presentation.

"I felt relieved that I didn't make any mistakes," she said.

"A lot of different feelings were coming to me, the biggest one was relief that it was all over."

Just 23, Kim had already announced before the Olympics she was hanging up her skates. A megastar in her homeland with a portfolio of lucrative sponsorships, she has been living in the spotlight for years and battling injury problems.

Although she won last year's world championship, Kim was not at her absolute best. She did get the highest score in the short program but was second overall behind Sotnikova in the long program.

Kim relieved her skating career is over

Kim was the last to skate and, while her routine was almost flawless, she opted to play it safe and complete six triple jumps after the Russian had nailed all seven she attempted.

"I didn't watch the skaters before me because I was preparing my program," Kim said.

"I just thought I did everything I could. I didn't feel any pressure but it has been four years since Vancouver so I was exhausted."

While Sotnikova had the crowd on their feet stomping for more, Kim was emotionless through most of her routine, struggling to even break out a smile until she came back for the flower presentation.

"I'm just so glad it is over. Training is so hard for any athlete," she said.

"I am so happy to be here because it is my last competition as a skater. When I finished I was so tired."

Had she won, Kim would have joined Sonja Henie and Katarina Witt as the only women to win back-to-back titles in the sport's most-watched event.

In every event where judges decide the medals, there is always controversy when two competitors are so close. With Kim and Sotnikova skating cleanly, the Russian got the gold on account of her program being slightly tougher.

Within seconds of the decision, social media was abuzz with people divided over who should have won, but Kim was not buying into the debate.

"The score is given by the judges. I am not in the right position to comment on it. And my words can change nothing," she said.

"I was the last skater and I couldn't see how the others did. The result was good because I made no mistakes. It is a complicated feeling because the competition is over.

"I didn't watch the skaters so I didn't know about the other scores or how they skated. I can't do anything about this. I did all I could."

Kim said she had struggled to find the same motivation for Sochi that she had four years ago when competing in Vancouver.

"The most difficult thing for me to be able to compete at my second Olympics was the motivation," she said. "It is different from the Vancouver 2010 Games because I had a clear goal at that time. I could die for a gold medal."

(China Daily 02/22/2014 page16)