(ATR) Basketball stalwart Yao Ming is a three-time Summer Olympian and eight-time NBA All-Star, yet like many Chinese, winter sports are relatively unfamiliar.
Yao Ming reads Around the Rings. (ATR)
That may very well change.
The Beijing 2022 delegation believes that Yao will play a pivotal role helping to slam-dunk a Winter Olympics victory in Kuala Lumpur this Friday.
“Winter sports represents a healthy lifestyle, with people going out to embrace nature, especially the skiing game with the facilities in the mountains,” Yao said in a one-on-one interview with Around the Rings
“People in China now have this opportunity to embrace nature,” referring to Beijing 2022’s claim that a winning bid will inspire millions of Chinese to try skiing.
The seven-foot, five-inch Yao – who had his eight-year NBA career with the Houston Rockets cut short due to foot and ankle injuries – advised he has not yet skied himself, but has enjoyed some ice skating lessons in his home city of Shanghai.
“The one good side about being retired from the NBA – because in an NBA contract, I would be forbidden to do any ice or snow sport, but now I’m free to do it,” the Chinese basketball legend said.
Yao Ming bears Chinese flag at Beijing 2008. (Getty Images)
“I haven’t been skiing yet, but I could try,” said the 34-year-old. “I love snow.”
“It’s only forbidden from my wife now, I guess."
Yao, a major asset in China’s two trips to the quarterfinal round at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, was also his nation’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Athens.
“That’s a huge honor. I remember as a kid in 1984 – that was the first time that I saw on TV live the Chinese delegate walking into the stadium in Los Angeles.
“There was also a basketball player carrying the flag for China. I knew that billions of eyes were on him, but I could not imagine that I would do that someday, too.”
Undoubtedly, Ming will play a starring role for Beijing in Friday’s final presentation to the IOC. As the formidable presence was able to do on the hardwood. don’t be surprised if Yao once again delivers big when it matters the most.
Written by Brian Pinelli in Kuala Lumpur
Homepage photo: Weber Shandwick
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