WASHINGTON — WTOP sales manager Suann Lee had the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics torch relay as one of more than 7,500 torch bearers. Nominated by Samsung, Lee ran her part of the race on Tuesday. Here’s what she had to say about this once in a lifetime experience:
How does it feel now that it’s done?
It feels amazing. The whole experience and the mood was almost electric with the crowds and all the cheering. I feel so honored to have been able to participate with the Olympic torch relay in Seoul, South Korea, being Korean-American myself.
I am so thankful to Samsung Federal for nominating me for this event, thankful to God, for my friends, family and especially for my supportive husband Hanson and daughters Abby and Alaina, who have been my ultimate cheerleaders.
Samsung’s slogan for the torch relay was “Do What You Can’t.” As I thought about this slogan, it really made me take a moment to think about my parents. They immigrated to America without knowing the language, with very little money, to make a better life and give their children more opportunities, and ended up truly living the American dream.
Today, they got to see their daughter carry the Olympic torch in their home country.
I am so happy that my parents are able to see this and really honored to have been able to participate.
How does the feeling compare to your previous expectation?
I watched videos from previous Olympic torch relay participants, so I kind of had an idea what to expect, but experiencing it was really surreal. I know I will remember this forever, and I can’t wait to share this experience with my daughters, Abby and Alaina, and of course with family and friends. I got to pass the torch to Seun Ayobami Adebiyi, who was an Olympic hopeful from Nigeria and cancer survivor. He shared a little bit of his story and it is just amazing how much we can overcome with determination.
Any great behind-the-scenes stories leading up to the event?
As I was packing for Korea, I knew that I would be wearing the official Olympic torch relay uniform but I wanted to make a statement with what I was wearing under the uniform and my shoes. I knew that those were the items I was able to choose. So underneath my uniform, I made sure to wear my WTOP T-shirt. I also thought, since I’m from Maryland, I would love to pay homage to a local company, Under Armour. My husband went to Maryland and we are both big fans of the company. So I contacted Under Armour and they were kind enough to send me a pair of their latest innovative shoes called the HOVR. I felt like I got to represent the U.S. in my parents home country, Samsung, WTOP and Under Armour, a local company in Maryland.
I also got to know the two others from the D.C. area that participated in the relay: Young Bang and Brian Legan. Samsung as a sponsor allowed everyday people like the three of us to participate. At the end of the experience, we all just had a lot of fun. We were all taking in the experience and excited that this is leading up to the Olympics, where athletes from all over the world will be coming together. In the end, we are all real people living our lives and the Olympics really does bring a sense of unity — being able to come together young, old, people of all colors.
I know I will never forget this experience but I cannot wait to get home to my little ones.