New Turning Points: Shim Suk-hee
Short-track speed skater Shim Suk-hee is a legend of her sport and her country. Now her bravery, on and off the ice, is inspiring young women everywhere to discover their power through sport.
With multiple world championships, records and medals to her name—and her sights set on Beijing—Shim Suk-hee is the confirmed "Queen of Short-Track". But it's not just Suk-hee's incredible athleticism that's cemented her legendary status. By speaking out about abuse, Suk-hee sparked a major turning point for women's sports in South Korea. She talked to us about owning your fate and how sport has the power to create change.
Suk-hee's legend began at 6 years old, tagging along to her brother's skating lessons mostly "to grab snacks from the cafeteria". Until one day it all changed. "I did one session on the ice and it was so much fun", she says. "That's when I really started to learn ice-skating".
This would be the first major turning point in Suk-hee's life; from a young girl to the future Queen of Short-Track, as she is known in South Korea. But if you ask her what's been the most significant turning point in her life, she says, "Competing at Sochi was a huge turning point for me in many ways. I think a turning point is not what we wait for, but what we make. We have the power to do that".
When asked about her goals for 2021, Suk-hee says, "I want to see how far I can compete as an athlete and how far my abilities can take me. My ultimate goal is to qualify for the national short-track speed skating team".
"A turning point is not what we wait for, but what we make. We have the power to do that".
– Shim Suk-hee
And what advice does she have for young girls stepping out onto the ice for the first time?
"Emphasising the joy of sport is how we can create change", she says. "I want younger skaters to train in a way that makes their bodies and minds healthy. I sincerely hope they can set clear goals, believe in themselves and move forward".
"Emphasising the joy of sport is how we can create change".
– Shim Suk-hee
And Suk-hee is certainly stepping up to give those girls the opportunity to believe in themselves.
In 2019, she bravely spoke up about the abuse she had suffered since she was a teenager. In coming forward, Suk-hee empowered many more female athletes to speak up and join her demand for change.
Add this to Suk-hee's impressive achievements on the ice and it's easy to see how she embodies the spirit of sport to create change. "I just want to try my very best and enjoy the journey. I feel really blessed that I can be in a position to inspire someone".