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Rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae named top athlete of the year: poll

2016/12/12 16:19

SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- Rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae was picked as the top South Korean athlete of 2016, a national survey showed Monday.

In the poll by Gallup Korea from Nov. 4 to 25 on 1,700 South Koreans at least 13 years of age, Son received 29.8 percent of the votes to lead the pack.

The annual survey on top athletes was first conducted in 2005, and Son topped the list for the third time after doing so in 2012 and 2014.

The 22-year-old failed to win a medal at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games after finishing fourth. However, she improved from her fifth place finish at the 2012 London Olympics to set the best Olympic performance by a South Korean rhythmic gymnast.

Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min took second place with 27.3 percent. The 24-year-old footballer who also competed at the Rio Games, was voted the top athlete last year with 24.4 percent.

Golfer Park In-bee ranked third with 16.6 percent. She didn't get a single win on the LPGA Tour this season due to a series of injuries, but the LPGA Hall of Fame golfer became the first Olympic women's golf champion in 116 years after winning the gold medal at the Rio Games.

Figure skater Kim Yu-na was fourth at 14.5 percent. Kim, who had ranked first on the Gallup survey in 2007, 2008 and 2009, retired from skating in 2014, but she has never finished outside the top five standings in the poll for last 10 years.

Fencer Park Sang-young rounded out the top five with 8.8 percent. He defeated Geza Imre of Hungary 15-14 in the thrilling final to win an unexpected gold medal in men's individual epee at the Rio Games. Down 14-10 with less than three minutes remaining, he reeled off five unanswered points to complete the unlikely comeback.

In sixth was footballer Ki Sung-yueng. The Swansea City midfielder in the English Premier League is the captain of the South Korean national football team.

Ki was followed by baseball player Lee Dae-ho (8.6 percent) who played with the Seattle Mariners in Major League Baseball (MLB) this year, volleyball player Kim Yeon-koung (5.7 percent), former Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung (5.6 percent) and the Texas Rangers outfielder Choo Shin-soo (4.4) percent.

By gender, Gallup Korea said Son Heung-min, Son Yeon-jae and Park In-bee were picked the top three athletes by male voters, while women selected Son Yeon-jae, Son Heung-min and Kim Yu-na as their top three athletes.

The survey had a margin of error plus or minus 2.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

In this file photo taken on Sept. 17, 2016, rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae performs during a  local rhythmic gymnastics gala show in Goyang, north of Seoul. (Yonhap) In this file photo taken on Sept. 17, 2016, rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae performs during a local rhythmic gymnastics gala show in Goyang, north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr

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