fredag 18. februar 2022

How citizenship row clouded Eileen Gu’s Olympics

Until recently, the US-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu – or Gu Ailing as she is known in China – was one of the rising numbers of Chinese Americans straddling the two countries. They are comfortable operating between the two cultures and systems, taking pride in their heritage as well as their upbringing.

Gu, now 18, was born in San Francisco to an American father and a Chinese mother. She’s a big fan of Chinese dumplings and, every summer, she flew back to Beijing to attend cram school for mathematics. “When I’m in China, I’m Chinese and when I go to America, I’m American,” she once said.

But as the geopolitical mood between China and America began to shift, Gu was also caught in the middle between nationalism, identity and loyalty on both sides of the Pacific. While she was lauded in China, for which she has won three Olympic medals, she was denounced by a Fox News analyst as “ungrateful”, saying that her “reverse migration” was “shameful”.

In 2019, Gu switched her sport allegiance from the US to China. She said at the time: “The opportunity to help inspire millions of young people where my mum was born, during the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help promote the sport I love.”