Asian athletes to watch in 2022 Olympics (Part 1)

Asian athletes in the 2022 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics

Asian representation in the Olympics inspires pride.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, 14 out of the 244 athletes representing Team USA were Asian American.

It’s exciting to see Asian Americans participating in winter sporting events that are normally dominated by white Americans. These athletes serve as strong role models for the younger generation of Asian Americans.

This is why we’re excited to continue celebrating diversity in sports this year.

Here are some notable Asian athletes to watch out for at the 2022 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics:

Chloe Kim (Snowboarding)

Chloe Kim Asian Athlete 2022 Olympics
Photo Credit: Getty Images

At 17 years old, snowboard prodigy Chloe Kim hit back-to-back 1080s at PyeongChang 2018, landing Olympic Gold in the Women’s Halfpipe.

She returned last January after taking a 22-month hiatus from the sport following an ankle injury in 2019. She won her first event, then the X Games, then the world championship.

Snowboarding doesn’t have a rich history of diversity, and it can be isolating at times.

As a Korean American, Kim shared how her personal experiences with anti-Asian racism took a toll on her mental health.

My friends and teammates were supportive, but I just didn’t feel comfortable speaking about it because they couldn’t fully understand my experience,” she said.

Since 2018, Kim has become a household name in the U.S. She will be back this year to defend her title as Olympic champion.

Andrew Heo (Speed Skating)

Andrew Heo Asian Athlete 2022 Olympics
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Korean American short track speed skater Andrew Heo had his breakthrough moment during the 2019 World Cup 3 – where he made his first “A” final at a World Cup.

Korean culture wasn’t a big part of his life growing up in Pennsylvania. However, short track – a sport historically dominated by South Korea – has brought him closer to his Korean heritage. He is studying to become fluent in the language.

Heo spent his childhood on road trips traveling to and from his practices in Maryland and his hometown in Pennsylvania. At the age of 16, he moved to Utah to train at the Olympic Oval.

My dad, especially, says he wanted to give us the opportunities that he didn’t have as a kid because his parents could never afford it to let him do the things he wanted,” Heo said.

This paid off as he currently sits as the highest-ranking U.S. male speed skater.

Heo is a rising star. It’ll be exciting to see how the 20 year old will fare in Beijing next month.

Asa Miller (Alpine Skiing)

Asa Miller Asian Athlete 2022 Olympics
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Filipino American Asa Miller is headed to his second Olympic Games in February. He is the first alpine skier representing the Philippines to compete in two Winter Olympics.

Born in Portland, Miller started skiing at the age of one. He participated in his first race at eight years old.

The 21-year-old qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympics with a score of 68.56 points in slalom and 63.83 points in giant slalom.

I’m extremely excited to announce that I’ll be making my second Olympic appearance in Beijing 2022! Big thank you to everyone who’s helped me on my skiing journey so far,” Miller said.

This is a special moment for Miller as he’s the sole athlete representing the Philippines next month and the country’s flag bearer.

Nathan Chen (Figure Skating)

Nathan Chen Asian Athlete
Photo Credit: David Becker/Associated Press

Chinese American figure skater Nathan Chen was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. He started skating at the age of three and entered his first skating competition in 2003.

Growing up in Salt Lake City, where most of my classmates and fellow athletes were predominately white, you don’t see that reflection of yourself as easily,” Chen said.

He was inspired by trail-blazing Asian American figure skaters Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi.

After placing fifth in PyeongChang 2018, Chen arrived at Yale University to study statistics and data science. While carrying a full-time course load, he didn’t lose a single competition.

Yale was a completely different venture for me. I’d never considered that I’d really truly have the opportunity to go, and I didn’t want to pass that up,” he said.

As the son of Chinese immigrants, Chen spoke out on the rise of anti-Asian racism in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s really disheartening to see that. But hopefully the more that this is brought to people’s eyes and the more repercussions are being placed upon people that do these things,” he said.

Chen is the first Asian American figure skater to win three consecutive men’s titles at the world championships and a five-time U.S. champion.

As one of the favourites in men’s figure skating, he now heads to Beijing 2022 as the reigning world champion.

Keep an eye out for Chen’s charisma on the ice this February.

Jen Lee (Sled Hockey)

Jen Lee Asian Athlete

Photo Credit: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Taiwanese American sled hockey goaltender – and retired staff sergeant in the U.S. Army – Jen Lee is a two-time Paralympic champion. He made his Team USA debut at the Paralympic 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Lee was introduced to sled hockey after he had his left leg amputated above the knee following a motorcycle accident in 2019.

For me, being part of Team USA gives me the ability not only to represent my country, but I also value the camaraderie of all my teammates,” he said.

We’ll see if Team USA will win another Olympic Gold this year.

This is a two-part series Asian athletes to watch for in the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics. Part 2 will be available on January 13, 2022.

See also: 6 Asian North American Olympians who made history

See also: 9 Asian North American athletes we’re excited about

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