November 4, 2014 / 5:23 AM / 4 years ago

'Queen Yuna' named honorary ambassador for 2018 Games

SEOUL (Reuters) - Former Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yuna will play the role of honorary ambassador for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea’s Pyeongchang.

South Korea's Kim Yuna performs during the Figure Skating Gala Exhibition at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The 24-year-old, who became South Korea’s first Olympic figure skating gold medalist at the Vancouver Games, retired from the sport earlier this year after winning silver in Sochi.

Kim was one of the key figures in Pyeongchang’s successful bid for the 2018 Games, making an impressive presentation to the International Olympic Committee session in South Africa in 2011.

“The memories that I made with the bid committee are still fresh in my mind,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

“With these memories in stow I am excited to bring the same passion and commitment with me to this new role with the organizing committee.”

The figure skater was South Korea’s most popular sporting figure until her retirement and single-handedly made the sport popular back home.

Cho Yang-ho, who took over as president of Pyeongchang’s organizing committee (POCOG) in July, said Kim would make a valuable contribution to ensuring South Korea’s first Winter Olympics was a success.

“As a Games ambassador for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, we expect her to take the lead in promoting the Games to the world,” he said in a statement.

Cho, who led Pyeongchang’s successful bid for the Olympics, replaced Kim Jin-sun after he abruptly resigned in the middle of a review by the Board of Audit and Inspection.

Preparations for the Games in four years’ time are beginning to pick up pace with ground broken on a new speed skating rink last week, meaning construction work on all venues was underway on schedule.

The 2018 Games are being held in 13 competition venues, six of which needed to be built.

The IOC gave preparations the thumbs up earlier this year after a coordination commission inspected the Olympic Villages and several venues. They were also happy with the progress of a new highway and the high-speed train connections with Seoul.

Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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