The GW sophomore has been training five hours a day to compete against short track’s rising stars.
By Kristen Mitchell
Sidney Chu, a sophomore majoring in biology and public health, will compete at the International Sports Federation (FISU) World Winter University Games in Russia next month. The short track speed skater will represent both Hong Kong and George Washington University on what he hopes will be an early step in his journey to the 2022 Olympics.
It will be an honor to represent GW as he races in the 1,500 meter short track on March 4 and the 1,000 meter race on March 6, he said.
Mr. Chu grew up playing hockey with his friends in Los Angeles, but he was small for his age and found himself leaving the ice every day with a new injury. When he was 11 years old, he became curious about speed skating and fell in love with the sport after an introductory lesson at his local rink. It turns out his speed and agility were better suited for short track.
He liked the feeling of going fast—really fast—on the ice.
When Mr. Chu moved to Hong Kong during high school, he began training with the Hong Kong national team. He hoped to make it to the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but less than three months before the Olympic trials he was sidelined with a serious ankle and calf injury. Mr. Chu vowed to spend the next four years rehabilitating and preparing for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
“Coming back from an injury, I'm sure every athlete knows, you just have to take better care of your body. You have to warm up earlier than others and cool down for longer than others, and all kinds of stuff regarding nutrition, stretching and massage therapy,” he said. “It's tedious, but in the end it kind of makes you appreciate the main goal.”
In the year since the Olympics, Mr. Chu has been focused on regaining his strength. Through his recovery, he discovered a passion for orthopedics. He hopes to attend medical school after receiving his undergraduate degree and become an orthopedic surgeon one day.
Over the past few decades the DMV has become a hotspot for short track athletes, who train at world class facilities in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Two of the eight athletes who made the U.S. Olympic speed skating team in 2018 came from the D.C. area. The opportunity to train with elite coaches and among the best athletes in the world was a driving factor in Mr. Chu’s decision to come to GW.
In the lead up to the University Games, Mr. Chu has been training about five hours a day. He goes to Springfield, Va., three times a week for morning training sessions that start at 4:20 a.m. Five days a week, he returns to Springfield to workout from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. In between these sessions, he attends classes, does homework and works hard to maintain balance as both a student and an athlete.
“It's been really hard to find that motivation to train, but I get a lot of support from my social circle to keep me going and kind of keeping my eyes on the prize, not forgetting why I started this sport,” he said.
When he needs motivation, Mr. Chu looks to his heroes, Olympians Eric Heiden and Apolo Ohno, and how they stayed motivated to continue training through setbacks to achieve their dreams.
Mr. Chu is still recovering from his injury, but hopes to place in the top eight among his competition at the University Games. He hopes that by the 2022 Olympics he will be in top form and able to stand on the podium for short track.