BEIJING (Reuters) – A week after he was forced to drop out of the men’s individual competition at the Beijing Games, American figure skater Vincent Zhou described his difficult days in COVID-19 isolation contemplating the medal he might have won.
Zhou, who beat Beijing gold medallist Nathan Chen for the Skate America Grand Prix title in October, said he was “beyond thrilled” for Chen and fellow team mate Jason Brown for their results but admitted he was unable to watch the competition.
“It was too emotionally difficult to watch it,” Zhou, now out of quarantine, told reporters in a teleconference on Wednesday.
“I was extremely happy when both Nathan and Jason knocked it out of the park but it also was very difficult for me seeing the results because I knew I could have medalled.”
The 21-year-old California native competed in last week’s team event in which the United States won silver, only to find out the next day that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Breaking his silence for the first time since posting a tearful video on Instagram to break the news last week, Zhou said he had spent his time in isolation by keeping up his physical training, responding to messages and “taking time to breathe”.
He also used Netflix for the first time and watched “Icarus”, a documentary on a doping scandal involving a Russian scientist.
Zhou said he was shocked at his positive test – he had taken every precaution “short of moving to Antarctica” – chewing with his mask on and other extreme measures – and that his symptoms had been no worse than a mild cold and a sore throat.
“I don’t honestly don’t know how I got (COVID-19)… Sometimes bad things happen.”
Zhou said there were moments of happiness too, such as when he received messages of support from famous personalities and many others. He will be back in competition for the next season starting shortly as well as the exhibition gala to close off the Beijing Games at the weekend.
Zhou was asked how he might describe his Beijing Olympics experience to his future children or grandchildren.
“I would tell them to appreciate the journey, not just the destination. Be proud of the small victories every single day and don’t let one bad result define you,” he said.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, editing by Ed Osmond)