Survey finds Son Yeon-jae is most-liked Olympian

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Survey finds Son Yeon-jae is most-liked Olympian

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Son Yeon-jae

Eighteen-year-old rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae may have returned to Seoul without a medal, but she rose above other gold medalists to be named Koreans’ favorite athlete at the London Olympics, a recent survey by an advertising firm found.

In the survey conducted by Innocean, an advertising arm of Hyundai Automotive Group, a total of 500 Korean respondents aged 20 to 50 who watched the Olympic games were given choices of 33 athletes who won medals and three popular players who failed to win a medal - Son, weight lifter Jang Mi-ran and volleyball player Kim Yeon-kyoung.

Of them, 47.4 percent chose Son and 44.2 percent picked swimmer Park Tae-whan. Gymnastics gold medalist Yang Hak-seon and weight lifter Jang followed with 37.6 percent and 19.8 percent, respectively.

Son also topped the list of athletes when the respondents were asked who is best suited for commercials, receiving 79 percent of the vote. Second- and third-place spots were taken by Yang and Park, respectively.

Innocean added in an analysis that the survey participants seem to have chosen Yang particularly because the 19-year-old became the first Korean gymnastics gold medalist after overcoming an extremely impoverished childhood.

The ill-fortuned fencer Shin A-lam, who ended up earning no medal in a highly disputed decision by the judges, and archery gold medalist Ki Bo-bae were also cited as corporate commercial candidates.

When asked which commercial Son would best fit in, respondents chose cosmetics first, followed by electronic appliances and corporate image-enhancing campaigns. For Yang, corporate image campaigns came first.

The vaulter was given food and an apartment after the story of his childhood was publicized.

By Kim Ho-jeong [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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