Love for boccia helps So Yeong Jeong through pain

A nagging shoulder injury since London 2012 has forced the bronze medallist to take her training slower. 24 Apr 2017
Woman in wheelchair throwing a blue boccia ball
So Yeong Jeong (South Korea) playing against Zhiqiang Yan (China) in the mixed individual BC2 bronze medal match at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
ⒸOIS Photos
By EJ Monica Kim | For the IPC

“Despite of unfavourable conditions, I was happy to finish fourth place. However at the same time I kept thinking about what if I was in good physical shape there"

After a long road of rehabilitation, South Korea’s So Yeong Jeong has resumed training with just under a month until the International Sports Federation (BISFed) 2017 Asia and Oceania Region Championships in Hong Kong.

Jeong has been suffering from a persistent left shoulder injury since she made a successful Paralympic debut in 2012 with a bronze medal in the mixed BC2 class.

As the pain in the left shoulder disturbed her focus on training more and more, she went through a medical test last April.

“I found that the symptom was quite serious,” she said. “Fortunately, I was not required to have an operation, but I needed continuous treatment for a long term.”

However, the injury still played a factor at her second Paralympics last September in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It was such a challenge for me to prepare for Rio 2016, while enduring pain. But I never thought of giving up when I looked back my four-year effort,” Jeong said.

Although she could not defend her Paralympic bronze at the 2016 Paralympic Games, where she lost to China’s Zhiqiang Yan, she felt a sense of hope throughout the tournaments.

“When I reached semi-finals with my painful shoulder, I became very encouraged and hopeful,” Jeong said.

“Despite of unfavourable conditions, I was happy to finish fourth place. However at the same time I kept thinking about what if I was in good physical shape there.”

Jeong also competed in the mixed team BC1-2 at Rio 2016 with her compatriots Won Jeong Yoo and Jeong Min Sohn.

According to the entry, there were four players on the South Korean team, but only three players headed to Brazil.

“A liver disease forced Dong Won Lee to withdraw from the Games in the end, after the deadline of the final entry,” she explained.

“I believe that one of the reasons of our disappointing result was his absence which affected our team work.”

These days the-29-year-old realises she herself has a great responsibility for looking after her body more than ever.

“As I’m getting older, I can feel my lack of physical strength, and consequently I can’t recuperate from injuries as fast as before,” she continued.

“That’s why I stayed away from the sport for the past six months, and just fully concentrated on recovery of my left shoulder.”

Currently, she is struggling to take back her performance level in a short space of time for the upcoming regional Championships, which runs from 21-29 May.

She will compete in the mixed individual event. But the starting line-up for the team event will be decided depending on the outcome of her training.

“If athletes are asked about a goal, everyone will give you a same answer: standing on the podium. A medal is always in my heart,” she said.

Her primary aim for the rest of the 2017 season is to obtain outstanding results at national competitions.

“Firstly, I’ll try my best to achieve recognition nationally,” she said

“At the moment I don’t have Tokyo 2020 in mind. I just want to devote my utmost energy each year. Afterwards let’s see.”