Who’s winning at the Winter Olympics? Asian Americans
Asian Americans have had a stellar performance during the Beijing Olympics, with heavyweights like Nathan Chen, Eileen Gu and Chloe Kim pulling in gold medals in a breathtaking fashion.
With Thursday’s performance, Chen joins an exclusive club of American men to win gold at the Winter Olympics. He is the first to do so since Evan Lysacek in 2010. Kim became the first woman in Olympic history to win more than one halfpipe snowboarding gold medal, a feat that several top riders failed to achieve in the more than two decades it has been in the Games.
California native Eileen Gu also won a gold medal, but she competed for China instead of the United States, facing some controversy as she catapulted to fame across China. Gu addresses the question by explaining her identity as a Chinese American.
“I definitely feel as though I’m just as American as I am Chinese,” Gu says. “I’m American when I’m in the U.S. and Chinese when I’m in China, and I’ve been outspoken about my gratitude to both the U.S. and China for making me the person that I am.”
The accomplishments of these athletes have led to an outpouring of Asian American pride, with esteemed Korean American author Min Jin Lee tweeting, “So much Asian American excellence at the Olympics. You do us proud. Your strength, sacrifices, creativity, vision, and passion. We see you.”
In news conferences, Chen would speak a mix of Chinese and English, a representation of the cultural tightrope that many Asian Americans balance. Born in Salt Lake City but raised by immigrant parents, Chen shows pride in his Chinese heritage and ties to Beijing.
“My mom is from Beijing. My mom and dad actually met in Bejing, so I still have a lot of families here and some close ties to China. It’s been great to have this opportunity to be here,” Chen says.
In a tribute to her parents, Kim tweeted: “Love you always, dad. Couldn’t have taken this wild ride without your and mom’s constant love and support.”
Since the last time Chen and Kim performed in the Winter Olympics, the world has been struck with a pandemic, and Asian Americans have experienced a spike in hate crimes.
There were more than 9,000 anti-Asian hate incident reports from March 19, 2020, to June 31, 2021, reported Stop AAPI Hate.
“Our data clearly shows that Asian Americans across the country continue to be attacked, and that the hate incidents that we have been tracking since March 2020 are not going away,” Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, said in a news release.
Things only became worse in 2021.
Hate crime data published by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism revealed that anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339% last year compared with the year before, according to NBC News.
The wins by Chen and Kim are in no way a panacea for Asian American hate, but the outpouring of love and support for their performances amid the Lunar New Year has been a bright spot of the Olympic Games.