In Uzbekistan, Son off to good startSon Yeon-jae got off to a solid start at the Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships, leading the qualifying rounds halfway through.
Son received 18.183 points in hoop and 18.250 points in ball in the qualifying event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Wednesday. It is the first time that Son received more than 18 points in an international event. Her 36.433 points put her ahead of runner-up Deng Senyue of China by 0.733 point.
She was slated to enter the qualifying rounds in clubs and ribbon last night in Korean time. The individual all-around final and the four apparatus finals will be held today and tomorrow, respectively.
The 19-year-old is seeking Korea’s first gold medal at the Asian Championships. Korea’s best result at the event was a second-place finish in the ball final by Sin Un-jin in 2006. The best all-around finish was third, both by Sin in 2006 and Shin Soo-ji in 2009.
Son is seeking several gold medals in Uzbekistan. All six gold medals are up for grabs, including the team competition.
Son eked out the best result among Asians at international competitions this season, with gradual improvement over time. She won three silvers and two bronzes in four World Cups, including two silver medals at the latest World Cup held in Belarus last month.
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.
The Asian championships are a precursor to the 2014 Asian Games that will be held in Incheon next year. Son won a bronze medal at the Guangzhou Asian Games, the first Asian Games medal by a Korean rhythmic gymnast.
Four Koreans will compete in the team competition: Son, Kim Yoon-hee, Lee Da-ae and Chun Song-e.
By Son Ae-sung, Moon Gwang-lip [email@example.com]