SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's figure skater Choi Da-bin had been out of the media spotlight for years.
Early on, she was overshadowed by big-name predecessor Kim Yu-na, who overwhelmed the figure skating world through winning titles in nearly all international competitions in her heyday, including the 2009 International Skating Union (ISU) World Figure Skating Championships and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.
Since Kim's retirement in 2014, junior skaters like You Young, Lim Eun-soo and Kim Ye-lim have emerged and caught the public eye, leaving Choi still sidelined.
From 2016, however, Choi experienced a turning point in her figure skating life.
In a national competition, the 17-year-old finished fifth but grabbed a berth in the 2017 Winter Asian Games, as top rankers gave up the rights due to age limits and injuries.
Despite the lucky ticket, Choi made a successful debut at the Asian Games held in Sapporo, Japan, to reach the top of the podium with a personal best of 187.54 points. She was the first South Korean athlete to earn a gold medal in figure skating at the Asian Games.
Later at the ISU World Championships, she recorded 191.11 points, the highest points earned by a South Korean figure skater since Kim Yu-na, and placed 10th to bring her country two spots at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
South Korean figure skater Choi Da-bin waves after winning a gold medal in ladies' figure skating at the 2017 Sapporo Winter Asian Games on Feb. 25, 2017. (Yonhap)
After the accomplishments in the 2016-2017 season, she came into the limelight ahead of the first Winter Olympic Games on Korean soil.
But her pleasure was short-lived. She fell into a deep grief as her mother passed way in June last year from cancer.
Heartbroken Choi considered skipping the national Olympic qualifying event held earlier this month, but she didn't surrender. Choi battled on and swept the Olympic trials to claim one of the two Olympic tickets that she had won at the 2017 Worlds.
"Looking back on recent months, I've gone through so much," said Choi after the national contest. "I am glad I've been able to overcome them. My mom is on my mind right now. If she were still here, she would have been more excited and thrilled than anyone else."
South Korean figure skater Choi Da-bin performs her free skate during the Korea Figure Skating Championships at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul on Jan. 7, 2018. (Yonhap)
The teenage star will skate to "Papa Can you Hear Me" by singer and pianist Nina Simone in her short program as dedication to her late mother. She is ready to shine on her first Olympic stage, along with heavy favorites of Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova, and America's Mirai Nagasu.
The ladies' singles figure skating event at the PyeongChang Winter Games will be held on Feb. 21 and 23 at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, South Korea.