It’s easy to forget Asian athletes during the Winter Olympics. Without China’s bold, waving flag, the visibility is greatly reduced. However, let us not forget about the amazing talent that Asians in other countries have displayed during these Games in Sochi.
Case in point: just two days ago, Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu became the first Japanese figure skater ever to capture Gold in the Men’s category. Coming closely in second place and winning Canada’s fifth silver medal in Sochi was Patrick Chan, who would have also potentially made history by becoming Canada’s first Men’s Figure Skating Olympic champion. (Although Canadian figure skaters have won the World Championships nine times, none has ever won the Gold medal during the Olympics.) Either of them winning would also make them the first Asian champion ever as well. Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten took the Bronze, an impressive feat considering that he placed ninth after the short program the day previous.
What struck me while I was watching the athletes on this podium was the fact that all three were of Asian descent. Patrick represents Canada but was born in Ottawa to parents who were immigrants from Hong Kong, and Denis is ethnically Korean, born in Kazakhstan but now lives in California. To my surprise, it was also brought to my attention that six out of the top seven male figure skaters this year are Asian. What an amazing group of skaters who are extremely under-recognized in the media for their achievements.
So the next time you think that the Chinese (or Japanese, or Korean, and so on…) are only worth watching out for in the Summer Olympic Games with dominated sports like badminton, gymnastics, diving, and table tennis, think again! If you just look a little more closely, you can feel ethnic and heritage pride for many athletes during the Winter Games too. Three cheers for cultural diversity in the world’s most important sporting event!