(BEIJING) — Nathan Chen nailed his final performance on the ice in Beijing, becoming the first Asian American to win Olympic gold in men’s singles figure skating after years of training and looking up to legends like Michelle Kwan.
The 22-year-old skater spoke to ABC News’ Good Morning America after the win and what it meant to him now that he has carved out a space in Olympics history.
“I think representation is so important in growing up. Being able to have characters like Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi — it was really amazing to be able to see people that look like me and do such amazing things of the sport,” Chen said. “And now within Team USA, you know, we have so much diversity. You have so many Asian Americans that are doing so well — hopefully that will inspire, you know, the next generation of athletes.”
He continued, “It still doesn’t feel totally real. It still kind of feels like I’m in a dream.”
Chen thought back to the winning moment at Capital Indoor Stadium, saying, “Halfway through the program — I had a pretty good feeling that I was going [to win], I was on the right path — It was a lot of fun.”
His performance to Elton John’s “Rocket Man” captured the attention of the artist who hailed Chen’s winning performance on Twitter.
“I couldn’t believe that he knew I existed. It’s crazy that he did that. And just so special,” Chen said.
The free skater known as “the quad king” said he wouldn’t have made it this far without his mother’s support from day one, driving him to lessons for years.
“She didn’t even think anything of it, so we spent thousands of miles in our Prius going back and forth, back and forth,” he recalled. “All this stuff that we did was worth it because we were able to make it here and I was able to have this experience.”
The Salt Lake City, Utah, native said his mother got emotional over his win.
“I was like, oh man — knowing my mom, she’s definitely not that type of person,” he said. “So it was really touching to be able to hear that she was so happy.”
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