In a teary video posted to his Instagram, silver-medal winning figure skater Vincent Zhou announced that he’s withdrawing from the Beijing Winter Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.
“It seems pretty unreal that of all the people, this would happen to myself…I have been doing everything in my power to stay free of COVID since the start of the pandemic…The enormity of the situation, the just pain of it all is pretty insane,” he said.
The 21-year-old Californian’s heartbreaking withdrawal comes just after he helped the U.S. win a silver medal in the team skating event after placing third in Sunday’s men’s free skating. Zhou tested positive for the virus after the performance and awaited further testing to confirm whether or not he was infected. That tragic confirmation came Monday, forcing the gold-medal hopeful to end his time on the ice.
“While it was always my dream to medal on an Olympic stage—which I did accomplish before this happened,” Zhou said with a chuckle, “the overarching dream was just to skate. If I didn’t love this, I wouldn’t still be doing this.”
The skater broke down in tears as he reflected on his lifelong efforts to achieve his Olympic dream. “I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve cried today, but I’m happy to say that at least one of those times was happy tears. That was when I found out I become an Olympic silver medalist.”
Zhou finished sixth in the short program at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, becoming the first skater to land a quadruple lutz in that event. But according to NBC News, he has already fulfilled one Olympic dream in China: performing to music from the 2000 Ang Lee film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in his parents’ home country. The team gold was won by Russia, thanks to a dominant performance by 15-year-old prodigy Kamila Valieva, who became the first woman to land two quad jumps in the free skating portion.
Fellow skaters Johnny Weir, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Polina Edmunds offered their support and condolences via comments to the post.
As his video concluded, the Olympian added, “I will be back stronger and better. This is not the end—this is a setup up for a bigger comeback. Vincent Zhou, signing out.”