Sport

Olympic skier Eileen Gu shares her views when she chose to compete for China despite being born and raised in California

An OLYMPIC skier was born and raised in the United States but her decision to compete for China has divided opinion after she switched allegiances at the age of 15.

Eileen Gu, 18 years old this year, is the most popular player when he brought home three gold medals in the competition Beijing 2022 Winter Olympicsstarting on Friday.

Eileen Gu of Team China

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Eileen Gu of Team ChinaCredit: Getty
Eileen Gu of China competes in the FIS Aspen Snowboard 2021 Freeski Big Air final & Freeski World Championships

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Eileen Gu of China competes in the FIS Aspen Snowboard 2021 Freeski Big Air final & Freeski World ChampionshipsCredit: Reuters

However, the teenagers angered some, who believed that the San Francisco native should not have joined Team China.

Gu made the decision in 2019 after winning his first World Cup in Italy.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision for me,” she wrote in an Instagram post at that time.

“The opportunity to help inspire millions of young people where my mother was born, in Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help promote the sport I love.

“Through skiing, I hope to unite people, promote common understanding, create communication and forge friendship between countries,” she added.

Gu, widely regarded as the most dominant woman in freestyle skiing, was born in California to a Chinese mother and American father.

She is one of the only athletes in the sport to have won major international titles in all three Olympic disciplines: big air, slow style and half-pipe.

If she wins any competition in Bejing, Gu will make history as the first person to win a gold medal, with her Olympic debut.

“She was a lover of gold,” Jen Hudak, former Winter X Olympic gold medalist for the US women’s team, told New York Post.

“I don’t think anyone is on her level. I can see her winning medals in all three events this year.”

Gu’s rapid success has earned her major advertising and sponsorship deals in the US with brands such as Red Bull, Cadillac, Apple-owned Beats by Dre headphones, and Victoria’s Secret.

However, she has also done more than 20 endorsement transactions in her adopted home country.

So far, she has signed contracts with companies such as Bank of China, China Mobile and Mengniu dairy company.

And accumulated 1.35 million followers on China’s Weibo platform.

‘TONY HAWK OF WINTER SPORTS’

State broadcaster CCTV has described Gu as the “perfect child next door” while others in China refer to her as the “Snow Princess”.

“She’s the gold star for the country with the fastest growing economy,” Mike Hanley, head of a training facility for Olympic skiers, told the Post.

“She could be the Tony Hawk of winter sports in China.

“The amount and amount of support she gets from China will be a lot higher than what she gets in the US.”

Gu himself said that “in America, I’m American, and when I’m in China, I’m Chinese.”

However, some people involved in the sport have criticized the move.

“Most people play for other countries because they can’t be on the US team,” Hudak said.

“It’s not my place to judge, but Eileen is from California, not from China, and her decision [to ski for China] looks like a chance.

‘DIFFERENT SKIER’

“She became an athlete like she is because she grew up in the United States, where she had access to top training and training fields that as a woman she may not have. in China,” Hudak added.

“I think she would be a different skier if she grew up in China.

“This makes me sad.”

Hanley, one of Gu’s former trainers, says teen Yan’s mother is an outspoken “Tiger Mom” ​​while her American father keeps a lower profile.

“All roads to Eileen go through Yan,” he told the Post.

“Yan is easygoing but one of the most intense people I have ever met in my life. She smiles and tells you how wonderful you are.

“But then you find out, after the fact, what the requirements are. She loves her daughter and wants her daughter to come first.”

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DIPLOMATIC BOYCOTT

It is yet to be confirmed if Gu gives up her US passport.

China does not recognize dual citizenship and the International Olympic Committee requires athletes to carry the passports of the country they represent.

The debate over Gu’s allegiance comes at a time of growing tension between the US and China as US diplomats boycott the Bejing game.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced in December that the US would not send a delegation to the games.

She cited the Chinese government’s mass detention camps and the forced sterilization campaign against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the country’s western province as the reasons for the decision. this.

“As the President said to President Xi [Jinping], standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans. We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights,” Psaki told reporters on Dec.

However, the US has stopped boycotting altogether.

“The athletes on Team USA have our full support, we will support them 100% when we cheer them on at home,” Psaki said.

The Beijing Winter Olympics will begin this Friday, February 4.

The Opening Ceremony will begin at 6 a.m. ET.

Gu has scored large endorsement deals in China

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Gu has scored large endorsement deals in ChinaCredit: Instagram/eileen_gu_

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https://www.the-sun.com/sport/4599766/olympic-skier-eileen-gu-team-china-from-california-controversy/ Olympic skier Eileen Gu shares her views when she chose to compete for China despite being born and raised in California

Huynh Nguyen

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