For U.S. Olympic figure skater Nathan Chen, the journey to Olympic gold started when he was quite a young boy. He still remembers driving on the long, lonely highway from Utah to Southern California, where he was to train with Rafael Arutyunyan.
Chen had started figure skating only a few years before that day, and when he started, he was using his sister’s skates. Moreover, Nathan Chen slept in the car on the path to reach his dreams of winning Olympic gold.
Just 10 years later (and countless training hours later), Nathan Chen sat beside Arutyunyah and watched as his Olympic figure skating scores were read. For Nathan Chen, it was a dream come true.
In the short program, Chen set a record, but the truth behind the young 22-year-old Yale student’s success is that his success was hard-won. In an interview with the Associated Press, Nathan Chen explains that he grew up poor being raised by his mom. He adds that his trainer knew that the situation was difficult, and because “Raf” believed in his student’s talent, he just kept working with him out of the “kindness of his heart.”
In many instances, Aryutyunuan took whatever money Nathan Chen’s mother could provide, and it often wasn’t nearly what the trainer was worth. Sometimes, Rafael Arutyunuan would even try to give Nathan’s mom her money back.
Nathan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. His parents were Chinese immigrants named Hetty Wang and Zhidong Chen. Nathan Chen’s mother is a medical translator and his father is a research scientist. In addition to ice skating, Nathan also studied ballet and competed in gymnastics for seven years.
Nathan Chen is attending Yale University and is majoring in data science and statistics.
At the Beijing Olympic Games, Nathan Chen because the first American figure skating champion since 2010, when Evan Lysacek brought home an Olympic Gold Medal. His score was 332.60 points. Two Japanese figure skaters, Shoma Uno and Yuma Kagiyama, took home the silver medal and bronze medal.
Below, you can see a 10-year-old Nathan Chen performing. An epic moment occurs when the announcer says, “Remember that name!”
Congrats, Nathan Chen! You are a superstar and a rocketman!
Featured image: YouTube