With the Winter Olympics set to kick off in Beijing in less than a month, the Games have become a hot topic on China’s TV networks, often spotlighting the brightest hopefuls in the run-up. And on team China, the Chinese-American freeskiing wonder Eileen Gu is among the biggest and most anticipated superstars for the competition.
Team or love. That was the choice that Chinese Olympic gymnast Li Donghua faced in 1988 when he fell for Esperanza Friedli, a young Swiss woman he met in Beijing when she was visiting China that year, as reported by China Daily. Li could either stay with China’s national gymnastics team or wed Friedli, but not both.
By then, Li was accustomed to hardship, surviving a number of devastating injuries in the course of his gymnastics career with China, including one that nearly claimed his life. Even if he stayed with the team, he would only serve as a coach, which meant he couldn’t continue pursuing his dreams of Olympic gold.
So Li Donghua left the team to marry Esperanza Friedli.
Swiss law stipulated that immigrants married to Swiss nationals must wait five years to acquire Swiss nationality, which meant that Li would have to wait that long before he could compete internationally. Li ended up watching the bulk of his prime athletic years, including 1992 and the Barcelona Olympics, agonizingly tick away.
By the time the 1996 Summer Olympics began, Li Donghua was already a decorated gymnast, winning bronze in 1994 and gold in 1995 at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship. In Atlanta, Li finally realized his Olympic hopes, walking away with a gold medal on the pommel horse.
If there’s one thing I love about the Winter Olympics, it’s figure skating. And at this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Asian figure skaters from around the world have delivered some incredible Olympic moments in figure skating, even making and breaking records.
Here are 9 awesome Olympic moments from Asian figure skaters from around the world:
Vincent Zhou becomes first to land quadruple lutz at the Olympics
While American figure skater Vincent Zhou ultimately ended up in sixth place, he created a golden moment at the Olympics with his pioneering quadruple lutz, becoming the first person to complete the jump at the Games.
Boyang Jin pulls off record fourth-place performance for China
Nathan Chen lands a record six quadruple jumps in his free program
While American figure skater Nathan Chen couldn’t bring home a medal in men’s figure skating, he stunned audiences by landing a record six quadruple jumps during his free program, with a score that even topped Yuzuru Hanyu’s free skating performance. Wow! He’s proven he’s worthy of a medal, and at 18 he still has Olympic chances ahead of him.
Mirai Nagasu thrills as first American woman to nail a triple axel
Hallelujah! Patrick Chan finally gets Olympic gold through Canada’s team medal
The Canadian figure skater’s song for his free skate program — Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” — turned out to be apropos. After years of chasing Olympic gold, Patrick Chan finally secured the medal through Canada’s team win in figure skating.
Yuzuru Hanyu clinches a second consecutive Olympic gold in men’s figure skating — and gets showered with Winnie-the-Pooh bears
Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu’s consummate run in the men’s figure skating competition earned him a second consecutive Olympic gold, and legendary status as the second person to accomplish this after Dick Button. Some are calling him the greatest figure skater of all time. But he’s also famous for his love of Winnie the Pooh, leading his entourage of fans to rain down stuffed Pooh bears after his performances. It’s quite a phenomenon to behold at the Olympics, much like Yuzuru Hanyu himself.
Recently, Chinese Olympic figure skater Yan Han took to the ice to a version of Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” — and audiences cheered his choice of such a romantic, moving song. (In 2011 and 2012, the song became synonymous with Bella, Edward and their legendary human-vampire romance when it played in the “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” movies).
Never mind that he had some stumbles. His song for the men’s figure skating short program was endearing to audiences, especially those of us who adore “Twilight”. (Team Yan Han, anyone?)
But if you’ve seen the Edward in the “Twilight” movies (played by Robert Pattinson) and witnessed figure skater Yan Han on the ice, you might just agree with something Chinese fans have been saying. That he looks like Edward in “Twilight”.
It’s great to see him display a little humor after his uneven performance. Let’s hope that spirit and confidence, boosted by this gorgeous song, will help him land those jumps next time around. (Admittedly, he’s has had a tough Olympics, since he is still healing from a number of injuries, as he told Chinese press in an emotional interview.)
While Jun and I were watching China compete in the men’s 1,500m speedskating event at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, we happened across a fascinating young man among the competition: Hungary’s Olympic speedskater Shaolin Sandor Liu.
After seeing his name, I knew one of his parents must be Chinese. Turns out, besides his Hungarian mother, he has a Chinese father.
He and younger brother Liu Shaoang were given the opportunity to train in People’s Republic of China earlier in their career. “We were really lucky. When we started there was a world championships in Hungary and the Chinese team came. My father, being Chinese, started speaking with them, helped with different things in Hungary and getting to know the country. They said since his two sons were Chinese they should come and train in China. It sounded good to him so he decided to take the chance to bring us to China and we were training there for one-and-a-half years. Before our results weren’t really good. After that time we came back from China and we won every competition.”
As anyone who follows short track speedskating knows, China has a powerhouse of a team in this sport, with a total medal count only second to the leading country, South Korea. So I’m not surprised that Shaolin Sandor Liu improved so much after training with the Chinese team.
Shaolin Sandor Liu claimed gold in the 500m short track speedskating event at the 2016 World Championships in Seoul. During the current World Cup short track speedskating season, he’s had a number of strong performances, including ranking first in the 500m event at Budapest and the 1,000m event at Seoul.
That’s why, while he only finished in fifth place in the 1,500m short track speedskating finals the other day, Shaolin Sandor Liu is still a solid contender in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. He’s set to compete in the 1,000m event Tuesday, February 13 at 19:26 Korea time. If you happen to tune in, watch for him — and why not root him on as well?
Additionally, here are few more interesting things about Shaolin Sandor Liu:
His parents — a Chinese father and Hungarian mother — aren’t the only reason I’ve tagged this post AMWF (Asian male/White female, in this case). Liu’s current girlfriend is Elise Christie, the short track speedskating star from Britain.
Half the fun of watching the Olympics is the athletes themselves. They can inspire, amaze, and even catch our eyes in the best possible way. Including many of the Asian men we’ve seen competing in Rio.
Here are 4 of the attractive Asian male athletes that we’re watching at the 2016 Olympics (listed in no particular order):
Anyhow, just peruse the many luscious photos of Ning Zetao online – and enjoy. 😉
He’s totally ripped. He just won the gold medal in weightlifting. And he even set a world record. Meet 25-year-old Long Qingquan, your ultimate muscle man/weightlifting crush. Wouldn’t you love to run into him over those barbells?
Speaking of hotties in the gym, there’s also the legendary 27-year old gymnast from Japan, Kohei Uchimura, who is a seven-time Olympic medalist. You have to love his boyish grin, his cool hair, and that chiseled physique. And since he’s also considered the greatest gymnast of all time, just imagine all the fun (horizontal and vertical) you could have with this guy. 😉
This 21-year-old swimmer from Singapore has dreamy brown eyes and a 100-watt smile. But more importantly, there’s something kind of sexy about not only getting the first-ever gold medal for your country but also beating celebrated Olympian Michael Phelps to do it.
Who else would you include on this list? Sound off in the comments!
UPDATE: I’d like to add the following names suggested by readers and fans:
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