The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was the first Olympics held in Korea, so it was a hot topic of conversation earlier this year. Short track speed skating was especially popular because it is one of the few competitions where many local sports stars can compete against prominent sporting nations and win gold medals. Moreover, it provided Jin Sun-yu, a short track coach at Dankook University (DKU), the chance to work as a sports commentator with the nation's public broadcaster, KBS. In her day, Jin Sun-yu was the first Triple Crown winner in short track speed skating after she was took part in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics and won the World Championships three times in a row. She retired soon after and continued her sporting career as a coach and has since been recognized for her reliable sports commentary at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The Dankook Herald interviewed Coach Jin Sun-yu to learn more about her success story.
|▲ Jin Sun-yu (middle in the picture) worked as a commentator in the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics.|
Q: How were the Pyeongchang Olympics different for you to work as a commentator, instead of an athlete?
A: I have provided sports commentary since 2017, so I haven't felt attached to the players, because I watch the races on a screen in the studio. In this sense, the Pyeongchang Olympics was even more extraordinary, as I was able to watch the athletes directly during every race. Of course, when I was an athlete, I felt pressure to compete in the Olympics. However, in the case of sports commentary, when the whole nation is watching, if I make a mistake, it’s a broadcasting disaster. For this reason, I was nervous while I was working as a commentator for the Pyeongchang Olympics. Nevertheless, the athletes performed well and I was very excited to explain such passionate competitors.
|▲ Jin Sun-yu, when she was a short-track speed skater.|
Q: As a coach, what do you think is most important when teaching students at DKU?
A: The most important thing when working as a coach is good communication with my students. When I was competing, it was only 10 years ago, but it was a very hectic atmosphere, and the coach was so scary and we had very little communication. So I try to talk as much as possible with my athletes and take care of them. Having said that, I never realized how much stress coaches feel, when I was a competitive athlete. I never realized how difficult it was until I became a coach. Anyway, it seems right for the players to have conversations with their coaches because they are adults and university students. Emotional waste also has a negative impact on the athlete’s condition management, so I'm trying to communicate with the players and make any changes in the program that are required. I am learning more about myself too when I have conversations with my students.
Q: What do you think about DKU's short track training environment?
A: It’s not good actually. Even though the students are all in Cheon-an, the practice rinks are in Seoul or Gyeonggi-do. After completing school classes, we always have to go to Seoul to rent a rink. As a result of this wasted time and energy travelling, players have difficulty adjusting quickly to their training environment. Of course, Cheon-an also has a skating rink, but since there are 14 skaters including short track, speed, and figure skating at DKU, our athletes have to join and train with other teams if they use this rink. Due to these disadvantages, we have to go to Seoul to get more effective practices. It is especially important for players to get in shape before a match, even when they are tired. So, once we come back from Seoul, they just stretch and take a break from practice. I heard that there are plans to build a skating rink at the Jukjeon Campus. Those universities which are strong at short track have their own rink, so the athletes can be managed systematically from a very early age. If we build a rink at school, young friends can look at DKU as a goal, and we can regain the stature of our former short track power. Even a slight improvement in the athletes' training environment will greatly improve their performance. Therefore, I hope our school will build its own skating rink.
Q: Many juniors still choose you as their most respected short track speed skater. What would you say to future competitors in the sport?
A: Athletes are always being compared and have to listen to criticism all around them, but I hope they pay attention to themselves instead of being swayed by the opinions of others. Even as an athlete, what I still feel today as a coach is that the media always compares competitors. Of course, I am happy to see junior players do well. However, I feel that I am putting pressure on them comparing it with the records I had when I was a competitive athlete. In any case, athletes already fight with themselves at games or practices. Practice faithfully and keep trying then you will achieve what you want and I'll be cheering for you guys.
Lastly, commenting that “The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was a festival for everyone”, she said she would like to thank people for their enthusiastic support at each event. She also pledged that from now on, she will try to actively communicate the sporting strategies as a commentator and strive for the development of students as a coach of DKU.