Choi Min-Jeong was South Korea’s star of the 2018 Olympics, winning two short track gold medals, but injuries – and the emergence of Suzanne Schulting – mean the country is heading into the 2022 Winter Games with more modest ambitions.
Choi, however, believes she can do even better than in PyeongChang, where she won the 3,000-metre relay and 1,500-metre events.
“I’ve been looking forward to Beijing since right after PyeongChang,” the 23-year-old said. “At my second Olympics I want to show the crowd an even better performance than at the first.”
Since she shone in PyeongChang, Choi has lost her world No. 1 ranking to Schulting of the Netherlands and suffered knee and ankle injuries at the World Cup opening race in Beijing last October.
She missed the next World Cup event in Nagoya, Japan, but has been gaining momentum since then, taking second place in the 1,000 metres in Debreden, Hungary, and beating Kim Boutin of Canada and Schulting in that event in the last World Cup race in Dordrecht, Netherlands.
“Not being able to participate in competition is frustrating,” said Choi, who used the time off the ice due to the COVID-19 pandemic to get back in shape.
“It was hard, to be frank. But it was something we had to live through. I used the pandemic to get some recovery and try different training methods. When I couldn’t skate on the ice, I trained off it.
“I started to think more positively after I grabbed the gold medal at the final World Cup series.”
Choi is now focused on the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“I’m ready to enjoy Beijing. My speed is better now than at the World Cups. My strength is using the outside course to overtake. I’ve trained really hard on that,” she said.
The short track events at the 2022 Winter Olympics start on Saturday with the mixed team relay, which makes its debut at the Winter Games.