Son aiming to grab gold at Asian championships

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Son aiming to grab gold at Asian championships

Son Yeon-jae hopes to keep her momentum rolling as she enters her first Asian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships that kicks off in Uzbekistan tomorrow.

Son left for Tashkent yesterday from Moscow, where she trained with her coaches, Kim Ji-hee and Elena Nefedova.

Son is seeking Korea’s first gold medal at the Asian rhythmic gymnastics championships.

Korea’s best result is a silver medal in the team competition in 2009 and a bronze medal in the 2009 individual all-around by Shin Soo-ji. Son has not competed in the biennial event.

Five gold medals are up for grabs in individual events, the all-around final and each of the four apparatus finals. Including a team event, a person can earn as many as six golds.

Koreans hope the 19-year-old Son will win all those medals, which Kim Ji-young, the head of a rhythmic gymnastics committee at the Korea Gymnastic Association, says is not wishful thinking.

“It seems certain that Son Yeon-jae is No. 1 in Asia, given her current form,” Kim said. “But, it is important to reduce mistakes in a real competition.”

Son finished fifth in the all-around final of the London Olympics, highest among Asians. No other Asian athlete made it to the final at London.

Son had impressive performances during the World Cups this year. She won five medals, three silvers and two bronzes, in four World Cups.

The Asian championships are a precursor to the 2014 Asian Games that will be held in Incheon next year. Kim said that a good result in Tashkent could set the stage for Son’s performance at home. Son won a bronze medal at the Guangzhou Asian Games, the first Asian Games medal by a Korean rhythmic gymnast.

Her biggest rival is Deng Senyue of China, who finished 11th at London. Jamila Rakhmatova of Uzbekistan is also considered a notable competitor.

The individual final will be held on Friday (four apparatuses) and Saturday (all-around).

The team final will be held for two days beginning tomorrow. Korea is sending eight other athletes to Tashkent.

By Son Ae-sung, Moon Gwang-lip []

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