LPGA star In Gee-Chun Runs Her Link of the Olympic Torch Route
The winter Olympics are almost here. I have a special love for the winter games, particularly when I am sitting on a comfortable sofa with a cup of hot chocolate watching the competitors ski, skate, and luge their brains out. I’ve always had a special affection for the ritual of passing the torch as well, along a route from its ancient home in Greece. This year, we’ll tune in to the winter festivities in South Korea, and a very fine Korean sportswoman will take a turn at moving the torch along. However, In Gee-Chun isn’t a winter athlete. She plays a summer sport – golf. She played golf in the Olympics of Rio, but that was the summer games. Is this a problem? Absolutely not.
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This fine representative of Korean sports will do a little extra credit on her time with the torch, carrying it less than a mile, then taking a monorail ride before walking another mile. For her, a lot of the Olympic experience and the sports experience is in spreading the message of peace to any who will hear it around the world. In her perfect vision, no one would be excluded, and all would participate. An iconic photo of the star holding the torch is a wonderful two-handed pose at the tail end of her professional downswing. That reminded me that golf attempts the same sort of inclusiveness as the games do. This isn’t out of the norm for In Gee-Chun at all.
Gee-Chun came out of a terrific early career on two of the Asian tours. Lately, she has won twice in the LPGA over the last three years. That’s pretty good. The fact is that she won majors – and that’s very good. She’s been named Rookie of the Year and has already received the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average in 2016. She has also has won 1.5 million in earnings for her best single season. That scoring average , by the way, is 69.58. She has won numerous events on the Japanese and South Korean tours as well.
In Gee-Chun is also a math prodigy, and is said to possess an extraordinarily high IQ. On the more personal side, she turned pro at 17 years of age to help with financial difficulties in the family, and considering her success, appears to have cleaned that right up. At the Lancaster Country Club, where she won her U. S. Women’s Open in 2015, she entered into a participatory relationship with the caddie program, and supports the educational outreach arm of that effort. Every year, she donates $100,000. Having completed course work at a South Korean university, she is happy to travel under the nickname of “Dumbo.” And yes, there is a Dumbo Fan Club. She is reportedly a friendly, harmonious person who is fun to be around. Well, that’s all I need to know. If I were a South Korean citizen, I’d be thrilled to have her carry my country’s torch for the Olympic Games.
And that peace thing. How often have we seen it, in sports, in the arts, in science? We see people of every nationality, race, religious background, political persuasion, and a long line of other diverse qualities participating in harmony. That being the case, it seems in order that this year’s Winter’s Games represent a symbol of peaceful, enjoyable rivalries. And, it is in order to have someone from our great summer game carry the torch, send out that big smile, and call for an athletic peace festival. Well done, Korea. Let the games begin.