US-Born Chinese Figure Skater Receives Backlash from Fans After Falling in Olympic Debut
Remember the summer Olympics last year when gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of event after event due to mental health issues? This time it’s different. The athlete, although born in the United States, is competing for China, and it’s not going well.
Beverly Zhu was born in Los Angeles. Her parents are both Chinese, but she was an American citizen. At age 7, she started figure skating, and she did quite well. In 2018, she competed in the novice division at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and she won. That same year, she made a decision that changed her life.
In 2018, China recruited Zhu to compete for their country instead of the United States. She renounced her U.S. citizenship since you have to be a citizen of the country in order to compete for that country, and China does not allow duel citizenship. She also changed her name to Zhu Yi. She was just 15 years old.
Now, in 2022, at the age of 19, Zhu is competing for China in the winter Olympics which are also taking place in China. The Chinese people have not been all that welcoming to Zhu, who does not know the native language fluently and is not all that familiar with Chinese culture.
Zhu was hoping to win over the Chinese figure skating fans during her Olympic performance, but it’s not going well. During the team event, Zhu fell and crashed into a wall. Her low score brought the Chinese team down from 3rd place to 5th place in the event.
On Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter, the hashtag “Zhu Yi has fallen” was trending on Sunday night. Later, the hashtag was censored.
Zhu competed again on Monday, and it didn’t go any better. She fell two more times during the women’s free skate, which was the final event in the team competition. In response, another hashtag started trending on Weibo. This time it was “Zhu Yi’s Winter Olympics debut is not perfect.”Within just a few hours, the hashtag gained over 33 million views.
Zhu is understandably upset and disappointed. After Sunday’s performance she said, “I’m upset and a little embarrassed.” As she wiped away tears, she added, “I guess I felt a lot of pressure because I know everybody in China was pretty surprised with the selection for ladies’ singles and I just really wanted to show them what I was able to do but unfortunately I didn’t.”
Why do you think Zhu is having so much trouble competing at the Olympics? Do you think she regrets competing for China?