Nathan Chen expressed his heartfelt appreciation for his mother, Hetty Wang, and gave a shout-out to two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan after taking home a gold medal at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Winning the gold medal in his mother’s home city of Beijing made the victory all the more worthwhile. “It means the world to be able to be here,” the “quad king” told CNN. “I know that they did everything that they could to give us – I’m the youngest of five – to give all of us… opportunities to pursue (our dreams), without having many resources themselves.”
Chen praised his mother for supporting him early in his career when they didn’t have a lot of money and tried to get him a coach.
“Certainly, that’s not super conventional,” Chen shared about his mother. “People wanted me to be with the coach and my parents somewhere else.
“She faced a lot and sheltered a lot from me, so I don’t even know a lot of the details, but when I asked her, she always just gets very upset,” he added.
In an interview with Today, Chen paid further tribute to his mother by remembering how she drove long hours from Salt Lake City to get him to practice with his current coach in California.
“We didn’t always have the funds to be able to support coaching,” the reigning world champion said. “So she was basically my coach throughout that whole period of time I was growing up, and along when I decided to move to California to work with my current coach, Rafael Arutunian. She drove me back and forth in our trusty little Prius, so a lot of miles put together and a lot of time put together, but this is a result of her.”
Chen’s family couldn’t attend the event in person due to COVID-19 protocols, but he celebrated his record-breaking score of 218.63 through a video call.
“I truly never thought I’d actually make it this far in skating,” Chen said. “To have the opportunity to get to the Olympics and be able to do what I did, it’s all thanks to the people that have supported me throughout my career.”
He also honored another woman who has inspired him throughout the years: Michelle Kwan, a five-time world champion who took home the silver medal at Nagano in 1998 and went on to win bronze in Chen’s hometown Salt Lake City four years later.
“Having athletes that look like you certainly gives you the hope that you can do the same,” Chen said. “I’ll never really reach Michelle Kwan stature, but just to be able to have someone like that when I was growing up is really powerful. That goes back to the power of representation.”
The admiration appears to be mutual, as Kwan commented on his Instagram tribute post to his mother on Thursday, congratulating Chen on his gold medal.
“So precious, I’m sure your mom is so proud. What a great moment for our sport to have such an extraordinary champion and role model both on and off the ice. Congratulations, so well-deserved!!”