“Right now the biggest thing in Korea is the Olympic skater Kim Yu-na. It’s a mania for us Koreans,” was a message left via the LKL contact form by a UK-based correspondent, shortly before the free skating element of the women’s figure skating event in the wee small hours this morning.
I think I knew that. The blogs and the newspapers are full of it. You can’t go anywhere without seeing coverage of her.
“So where’s your coverage?” she demanded.
In general, I try not to cover topics where I have nothing special to add, though that hasn’t stopped me in the past from doing a celebrity news roundup which is nothing more than a summary of what everyone else is saying.
With Kim Yu-na it’s something different.
Being a Brit, I’m used to our national teams and national sporting heroes failing at international level. I watch as the written and broadcast media feed off each other in building up expectations, speculating about victory until everyone believes that the medal is already in the bag. And then of course we are all disappointed. The gallant second place won by Andy Murray in the Kia-sponsored Australian tennis tournament recently is a good example of this. It’s as if the media hype contributes to the ultimate failure of the sportsperson in question. So the contrarian view is that the best way to ensure victory is not to hope for it too much. Admittedly, Kim Yu-na is more of a world-beater than any British sportsperson that I can currently think of, but the expectation of disappointment is deep-rooted for some of us Brits.
So I dared not watch the figure skating, in case my enthusiasm for victory led to a bone-crunching fall or twisted ankle. (That, together with the fact that it was at an anti-social hour of the morning). I watched the men’s short-track speed skating cheering for the Koreans (the Brits had done reasonably well but were never going to make it to the finals). And what happened? The Korean silver and bronze almost-medal-winners skidded off the track just before the finishing line.
The only evidence of my interest in the women’s figure skating was the uneasy tweet which read as follows:
“I hope KimYu-na continues to excel. It just makes me nervous when expectations are so sky-high.”
So, congratulations to Kim on her stunning gold. I claim that by not getting worked up about it in advance, LKL contributed to that victory.