A month until the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics: What do the Winter Olympics mean to Olympians?
There is a month left until the lighting of the Olympic flame, which symbolizes the beginning of something extraordinary. It was a long and challenging journey for athletes who trained and competed during the pandemic. At the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, they will be #StrongerTogether showing true Olympic spirit.
With the long-awaited Beijing 2022 around the corner, it's time to think about what they mean for athletes around the world. Olympics.com has learned from athletes from various disciplines why the Games have taken a special place in their hearts.
Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), alpine skiing
Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom champion at the age of 18, winning gold in Sochi in 2014. Since then, she has competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and added two more medals.
The American alpine skier attaches importance to winning but she also sees the Olympics as an opportunity to connect the world through sport.
"The Olympic Games are competitive and we are talking about medals, but here is a completely different side to it, which I think is much more important. It is unity and what actually brings the world together to feel a kind of friendship through sport and how powerful it really is. ”
CHA Jun-Hwan (Republic of Korea), Figure Skating
Athletes compete not only for themselves but also with the hope that they will inspire the next generation in their countries. CHA Jun-Hwan is only the second figure skater from the Republic of Korea, after KIM Yune, to arrive on the podium at the Grand Prix. The CHA is striving to bring as many medals as possible to its country, after winning a bronze medal at the 2021 Grand Prix Series, NHK Trophy.
“As I competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, I understand how valuable the Olympic experience is. I really hope that more Korean skaters will gain experience at the Olympics like me, so I did my best to secure more places in the men's singles.
“KODAIRA Nao (Japan), speed skating
Japanese speed skater KODAIRA Nao and retired LEE Sang-Hwa, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from the Republic of Korea, have a lovely friendship. At the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, KODAIRA comforted LEE by putting her arm around her shoulder after beating her in the 500 meters, at home.
“I believe that sport is a communication that does not require words. The way athletes compete and improve each other outside of nationality inspires many people. We compete with each other, but it is important to know each other's culture and language. That makes the sport even more enjoyable."