From sales to SKorea: One of WTOP’s own will carry Olympic torch

WASHINGTON — WTOP’s Suann Lee runs with the best in the world of sales. Now she gets to run with some of the best in a more literal sense.

Lee is participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics torch relay, which began in Olympia, Greece, in October and will continue until the main torch is lit to signify the beginning of the Winter Games on Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang. As one of more than 8,000 torchbearers, Lee will run her leg of the relay Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea.

“My parents are so excited as well as my in-laws,” said Lee. “It’s just a special thing to go back to my parents’ homeland and to represent America, and to represent Samsung … and to carry the Olympic torch, which is something that would happen once in a lifetime.”

As a senior account manager in the WTOP sales department, Lee has worked with Samsung — an Olympic sponsor — for about two years, helping them market to the federal sector. In May, Samsung’s vice president of federal government business, Christopher Balcik, nominated Lee to participate in the relay. And after a review of Lee’s bio, she was selected along with two others in the D.C. area: Young Bang of Booz Allen Hamilton and Brian Legan at Accenture Consulting.

Photos of the official Olympic jumpsuit and replica torch given to torchbearers. (WTOP/Suann Lee)

Because Lee was born and raised in the United States, she heads to Seoul with very little command of the native tongue. However, she has been using a creative way to get her language skills up to par before the trip.

“My Korean is maybe at a lower-than-kindergarten level. So in preparation for this, I’ve been watching some Korean dramas to brush up on my Korean, so I feel like I can communicate in some aspect,” Lee laughed.

Korean isn’t the only thing Lee is having to brush up on. She has been training to carry a three-pound torch for 200 meters.

“A lot of my co-workers and friends have been telling me to go to the gym and carry a three-pound weight around, so I’ve been doing that, carrying a broomstick, practicing running around the kitchen — and just making it really fun,” Lee said.

That handoff is likely to happen in inclement weather. The forecast calls for frozen precipitation and temperatures that top out in the low 40s.

“They’re providing me with the official Olympic torch relay jumpsuit, and I’m planning to wear fleece-lined clothing underneath. So I think I’ll be so excited, and this will be such a surreal experience, that hopefully the weather won’t effect me too much,” Lee said.

Lee gets to keep the jumpsuit along with the beanie and gloves included in the torchbearer uniform. She’ll also receive a commemorative replica torch, a special memento for all Samsung global torchbearers.

(Editor’s Note: The original story listed Seun Adigun rather than Seun Adebiyi as the person to whom Lee is handing off.)

Check back on Jan. 16 for pictures, video and to hear more from Suann after the relay.


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