February 10, 2018 / 4:44 AM / 2 years ago

Olympics: 'Queen Yuna' thrilled with final torchbearer role

Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Opening ceremony – Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 9, 2018 - Former figure skater Yuna Kim of South Korea prepares to light the cauldron. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - South Korea’s Kim Yuna thought she had seen and done it all during her stellar figure skating career, but lighting the Olympic cauldron as the final torchbearer of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics took her breath away.

Kim won Korea’s only figure skating gold medal with her performance at the Vancouver Games and while she has always been the hot favorite for the role at Friday’s opening ceremony she said it had only been confirmed a couple of months earlier.

As the ceremony came to a close, the Olympic flame was carried by a succession of Korean sporting heroes before finally finding its way to Kim perched high up at the top of the stadium on a mini-skating rink.

“As the last torchbearer I was able to participate in the ceremony and as an athlete myself it was great honor for me,” she told a news conference on Saturday. “I skated on ice for more than 10 years but it was first time I skated so high up.”

Kim, who retired after winning a silver medal in Sochi, performed a brief skating routine before sending flames shooting up to light the cauldron.

With the eyes of the world upon her, she knew she had to be flawless. She did not disappoint.

“In other competitions and performances, if I made a mistake I would be able to make it up next time. But this was the only chance, this was the moment the world was watching.

“When I was on the ice rink I couldn’t really see the spectators in the stadium. I was only thinking that I could fall, or that I shouldn’t make any mistakes... that was the only thing on my mind.”

The Pyeongchang Olympics run until Feb. 25.

Editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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