Paralympic champion Choi returns to international stage

The Seoul World Open will test Ye Jin Choi, the London 2012 boccia BC3 gold medallist. 16 Jul 2015
Ye Jin Choi

Ye Jin Choi

ⒸGetty Images
By EJ Monica Kim | For the IPC

“In Rio de Janeiro, I wish to share a joy of victory not by myself, but with my team, standing on top of the podium, after we win in the pairs BC3 event.”

After a three-year absence from the international scene, the London 2012 Paralympic Games individual BC3 gold medallist will compete in the 2015 Boccia World Open in Seoul, South Korea, which begins Friday (17 July).

A surprise winner in London 2012, the World Open is meaningful to her not only because it is the first international boccia event of the season and being held in her home country, but also her first international competition since the Paralympics.

“I am very happy to compete in my country,” Choi said. “The biggest advantage is that there are no time differences. This condition will help me to maintain a good form, so that I can show off my skills.”

She has been training with athletes from different categories in her club team in order to catch up from time missed the last three years.

“Ye Jin is the only BC3 player in her club team, Chungnam Provincial Office,” her mother and assistant Woo Young Moon said. “Therefore the coach made her play with athletes from BC1, 2 and 4.

“This training is very helpful for learning different playing styles, so she will be able to deal with unexpected situations in the match.”

The-24-year-old is aiming for two gold medals in both individual and mixed pairs BC3 events at the World Open. She will compete in the mixed pairs with Ho Won Jeong and Han Soo Kim.

“Ahead of the July’s competition, I am concentrating on throwing the first regular ball closer to the jack,” Choi said.

“The most important thing is to focus on my own performance,” she added. “That was one of the reasons why I could claim gold at my first ever Paralympic Games in London.”

Last year, Choi missed a chance to qualify for the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea, after finishing fourth at the national tournament.

“I thought that we were a bit unlucky, regardless of our result,” Moon said. “According to the guidelines of qualification for Incheon 2014, BC3 pairs did not have to include one female athlete.”

Consequently, the country’s top three male athletes headed to Incheon last October.

Choi, however, did not let that disappoint her.

“For me, the Asian Para Games was not as important as the Paralympic Games,” Choi said. “I just thought that I have more time to make preparations for Rio 2016.”

“As I have brought home a gold medal three years ago in London, this time I believe that I can enjoy my individual event more.”

Her sights are set on defending her Paralympic gold medal, but she wants to share that moment with her South Korean teammates.

“In Rio de Janeiro, I wish to share a joy of victory not by myself, but with my team, standing on top of the podium, after we win in the pairs BC3 event,” Choi said.

The competition will run until 23 July and features 76 athletes from 14 countries.