Son Yeon-jae satisfied with her performance before Rio Games

South Korean rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae said Tuesday she is satisfied with her improving performance, but will work harder to earn a medal at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.

Son collected two silver medals in clubs and ribbon over the weekend at the International Federation of Gymnastics World Cup in Pesaro, Italy. Before that, she’d picked up a handful of medals in Russia, Finland and Portugal.

“I feel good because I saw my performance getting better,” Son said upon her arrival at the Incheon International Airport. “I have good feelings for this season, but I won’t be content and will try to upgrade myself slowly for the Summer Games.”

Son has collected medals in every event she has competed in this season. After winning four medals at the Moscow Grand Prix, she took a gold medal in ball, silvers in individual all-around and ribbon, and a bronze in hoop at the Espoo World Cup in February. At the Lisbon World Cup last month, the 21-year-old finished runner-up in ball and clubs, while finishing third in hoop.

The Pesaro World Cup was considered the first real test for Son this season because she had to face the world’s top-ranked rhythmic gymnasts like Yana Kudryavtseva and Margarita Mamun for the first time. She earned a career-high 73.900 points in individual all-around in Pesaro, but she missed the podium by finishing fourth.

Son said facing stronger opponents doesn’t bother her because she will have to battle with the top-ranked people anyway for her road to the podium at the Rio Games.

“I don’t think my programs are any worse than theirs,” she said. “I don’t think about scores when I perform. I just try to execute what I’ve practiced.”

Son, fifth in individual all-around at the 2012 London Games, said that the Summer Games are different from the FIG World Cup, emphasizing that she actually has an opportunity to get better scores and win a medal.

“At the Olympics, (scoring) gets more strict as you can see it from the London Games,” she said. “You never know what is going to happen at the Olympics, so I want to put my best efforts forward until the end.”

Son said that she will now gear up to raise her stamina ahead of the Olympics. She will first have to compete at the national team qualification for Rio on Saturday at the Taeneung National Training Center in Seoul, which she is certain to pass easily, before going to the Rhythmic Gymnastics Asian Championships in Kazakhstan later this month. The season’s fourth World Cup in Tashkent will take place in May.

Son said her homework before the Summer Games will be to overcome the pressure and have a strong mentality. She will go to Brazil two weeks before the competition starts.

“As for environmental aspects, I think everyone is given the same conditions and will have to make adjustments,” she said. “Many people are picking up injuries this season, so I think trying not to get injured before the Rio Games is the most important thing.”

Son added that she will try to keep up her performance and maintain what she has been doing well throughout the season, instead of making changes to get better scores. She has been scoring low in hoop compare with other apparatuses, but the rhythmic gymnast said she will not focus on improving her level in just one specific apparatus.

“It’s important to show a good performance in all four apparatuses,” she said. “I will try to keep my pace and execute what I have been preparing.” 혻(Yonhap)