Eileen Gu said she was more interested in celebrating with a special bar of chocolate than wading into an argument about her nationality, after the American-born Chinese star won gold in the freestyle skiing big air event at the Winter Olympics.
The 18-year-old is undoubtedly the most high-profile home athlete of the Games, and she got her bid to win triple gold off to a perfect start, beating Tess Ledoux of France by 0.75 points to claim the title. Britain’s 17-year-old Kirsty Muir showed her immense promise by finishing fifth.
Gu will also target halfpipe and slopestyle gold and she had already planned her celebration, which she earned with a brilliantly executed 1620 trick on her final run that she had never pulled off in competition before.
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"I brought a package of holiday-themed peppermint dark Ghirardelli chocolate, so I'm going to open that today. I've been saving it for my first final. It's kind of an exciting moment," Gu said.
"Even if I hadn't landed it (the final trick), I felt it would send a message out to the world and hopefully encourage more girls to break their own boundaries.
"That was my biggest goal going into my last run. I reminded myself to have fun and enjoy the moment and that, no matter what, I was so grateful to even have this opportunity to be here.
"Right now I'm going to say big air is my favourite [event] because I just had the best happiest moment of my life here. But halfpipe also ranks pretty high.”
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Gu’s decision to represent China - the country her mother is from - rather than the US, where she was born and raised, has been controversial, and there has never been clarification on whether she has had to revoke her American citizenship.
In China, dual-nationality is not permitted at her age and it is not known whether or not she has an exemption. But Gu appears to be getting tired with the debate.
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“I feel just as American as I am Chinese. I am American when I am in the US, and Chinese when I am in China.
I'm not going to waste my time trying to placate people who are one, uneducated, and two, they are not going to experience the gratitude and love I have the great fortunate to experience on a daily basis.
"If they don't believe me, and if people don't like me, that is their loss: they are never going to win the Olympics."
Gu is in halfpipe qualification on Wednesday, before the final on Thursday.
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