For Kristi Yamaguchi, winning the coveted gold medal at the 1992 Winter Games was only the beginning.
“Having the title opened the door to many opportunities that came my way. The hardest part about training was keeping my nose to the grindstone physically but also mentally — finding ways to work through doubts, the ups-and-downs and developing a tough, competitive mind.”
The perseverance paid off, making Yamaguchi a household name.
“I had many role models coming up as a skater. One of them was U.S. Champion Tiffany Chin. I identified with her Asian-American heritage. That connection made an impression that I could be like her.
“She blazed a trail for me to follow,” explains the two-time World Champion and U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame inductee. “I hope we as Asian-Americans can continue that in all walks of life.”
Regarding gender equality, says Yamaguchi, “Everyone should have the same opportunity to go for their dream. And as they pursue their dreams, it’s only fair the national governing bodies provide equal compensation for the training and expenses of athletes.”
“Title IX,” she adds, “has opened the door for so many female athletes, and the proof is in the largest participation of female athletes in the Olympic Games for the United States in recent games. I hope this continues. It would be great to see female athletes represented in even more sports.”
The sooner the better
Yamaguchi recommends parents involve their daughters in sports early on. “Both our daughters participate. They learn so much about themselves and life lessons that will serve them well.”
Cindy Riley, [email protected]