Lee Sang-Hwa is getting some viral fame at the 2018 Winter Olympics, with pictures of the full-figured South Korean speed skater spreading online as she tries to bring home gold for the home country.
The speed skating star is seen as the best chance host South Korea has to bring home a medal at the Olympic games in Pyeongchang. As the ChoSun reported, a survey of South Korean soldiers found that Lee is the top pick to win a medal, with 31.4 percent of respondents saying she is the country’s best hope. In order to win, she will have to overcome the powerful teams from Canada and the Netherlands, which each placed 10 women in the speed skating competition.
Lee Sang-Hwa has already made her mark on the speed skating world. After racing to a surprising fifth-place finish at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, when she was just 16 years old, Lee followed it up by winning a gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver — the first Asian woman ever to win an Olympic speed skating title. She followed it up with another title in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and is looking to again remain atop the speed skating world.
Lee said she is even more motivated to be racing in her home country this time around.
“I was so envious of skaters who got cheers from the home crowd when I was in Vancouver and Sochi. I thought how it would be nice if the Olympics take place in Korea. That has come true, and I’m thrilled by it,” she told the Chosun Ilbo.
But Lee Sang-Hwa has already won when it comes to viral fame. Pictures of the speed skater have spread online as she has started to garner media attention across globe. Her good looks have earned her plenty of fans even among those who may not be speed skating aficionados, with her pictures getting shared across social media.
Lee Sang-Hwa is no stranger to seeing pictures and videos going viral. She had gotten attention at each of the previous Olympic games in which she competed, and even earned a spread in Esquire. Lee is considered among the most marketable athletes in Korea, the Korea Times noted in 2014.
If she can defend her Olympic title, Lee Sang-Hwa could see even more attention for her pictures.