Chinese-Hungarian brothers win gold for Hungary at Winter Olympics

For the first time since 1980, Hungary has won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, thanks to the performance of a four-man team in short track speed skating in Gangneung, South Korea. The team set an Olympic record of 6 minutes 31.971 seconds in the men’s 5,000 metre relay and its members included Viktor Knoch and Csaba Burján, as well as two brothers of Chinese origins: Sándor Liu Shaolin and Shaoang Liu.

The Liu brothers were born in Budapest–Sándor in 1995 and Shaoang in 1998. Their father is from China, while their mother is Hungarian. Their father, alongside his younger brother, left China some three decades ago and traveled across Eastern and Central Europe by train for ten days, before settling in Hungary. After immigrating to Hungary, he met his future wife in an accounting firm. Both boys learned Chinese and still speak it to this day (I cannot tell from Hungarian reports whether they speak Mandarin or Cantonese), and they also celebrate Chinese New Year with family each year.

As teens, the brothers spent a full year training in China–a country with an undisputed reputation for skating. They noted that there was never any doubt in their mind that they would return to Hungary, though they faced the same conundrum that many visible minorities experience. In Europe, they are seen as Chinese and in China they are perceived as Europeans. Speaking about Hungary and Europe they note: “This is our home. We were born here, we went to school here. Our family and our friends live here.”

Cultural diversity runs deep in the lives of these brothers. In addition to their Chinese and Hungarian background, Sándor’s partner is a skater from Great Britain, while Shaoang is dating a Russian skater.

Today, the two–along with their two teammates–have certainly put Hungary on the map again at the Winter Games, after a 38 year “drought.”

Left to right: Sándor, Shaoang, Viktor Knoch, Csaba Burján. Hungary’s team wins gold at the Winter Olympics. Photo: MTI / Zsolt Czeglédi.

26 Comments

  1. Till and Edward says:

    Really nice story. Nice looking boys.
    Now, about the barbaric dog and cat eating in Korea – has anything been done about that painful daily torture to man’s best friends?
    That alone (their methods of killing these innocent dogs and cats) should have been a nr 1. Condition of not attending and participating at all in such a primitive country.
    Shame on Korea, China, Vietnam and that whole barbaric area.

    • Hungarian Free Press says:

      It is an absolutely horrendous practice and certainly one that in Hungary, as elsewhere, causes outrage.

    • Are you a complete vegan/vegetarian? If you were hungry and the consumption of cats, dogs, guinea pigs, parakeets, hamsters… were considered a staple of the local diet, would you consume the meal? I find it hypocritical of any meat eaters who don’t approve of other cultures dietary norms, when they themselves will eat eggs from hens in tight cages, stacked on top of each other, pigs raised in tight cages they are unable to turnaround…

    • Koreans don’t eat cats. Cats are not eaten in Korea. Get your facts straight! Shame on you for ignorance. As for dogs, 99% of Koreans don’t eat it. Dog meat consumption began right after Korean War when the country was in a very poor state. But you will have a very difficult time finding a dog meat restaurant in Korea nowdays. As for China and Vietnam, it’s true that both dogs and cats are still widely consumed especially in rural areas.

  2. Gyula Bognar Jr says:

    Actually there were four Hungarian nationals who were winning the gold, not only the two Chinese-Hungarian brothers.

  3. Good for Hungary, and obviously good for the athletes who just won gold. Having said that, author should take a step back and think of the ethics of using this to promote multikulturalism in Hungary, based on his Canadian model. Let us not forget that Canadian multikulturalism was built on the land of distinct native populations. The building of Canadian society is similar to the bacon & eggs story (the chicken is involved but the pig is committed). I assume that most people can easily figure out that the natives were the pigs in the case of the Canadian “bacon & eggs” story. Advocating for the Canadian social model anywhere else involves automatically attacking the very right of native cultures all over the world to exist. Not nice!

    • Hungarian Free Press says:

      This story is about the diversity that exists in Hungarian society. Canada has nothing to do with this and there is no mention at all about the Canadian model of multiculturalism in the article. Your decision to even turn a story like this into something connected to your preoccupation with “native” cultures being “taken over” by foreigners is pretty unfortunate.

      • Come on! Your whole cover of this story is dedicated to the fact that the team was multicultural. You are clearly projecting Canadian ideals on Hungary. My point was not to idealize the model, which you clearly did.

        • Hungarian Free Press says:

          You must know very little about the fabric and complexities of Hungarian society to think that any reference to dual or hyphenated identities is somehow a nod to the Canadian model of multiculturalism. The fact is that I don’t advocate for Hungary to adopt the Canadian model–not here and not in my Hungarian publication either. (If anything, my preferred model for Hungary would likely be considered assimilationist by proponents of the Canadian model.) In this case, the mention of the Liu brothers’ background is relevant, because their life experiences and their own statements show that their father’s heritage is relevant to them. If it were not, if there was no evidence of them trying to hold on to certain aspects of this identity (such as language), then regardless of their name or appearance, I would list them simply as Hungarians, with no mention of any other heritage.

        • The CURRENT Canadian model is miles above the Hungarian “model” of primitive, hollow and, the worst of all, hateful and excusive nationalism.
          Cultures are influenced, change and evolve – if it didn’t the pagan Hungarian migrants from Asia, who set immediately on pillaging Bavaria and further, would have been eventually exterminated by the German states.
          The marauding chieftains learned from Lechfeld, settled down, joined Christendom and kept changing even if always one step behind. From time to time a step back, like now.

          • “The CURRENT Canadian model is miles above the Hungarian “model” of primitive, hollow and, the worst of all, hateful and excusive nationalism”

            The native Americans who tried to resist “progress”were also branded as “primitive”, among other things. I guess your attitude towards Hungarians, (which strangely it seems Adam has no problem with) makes you a progressive. The modern version of 19’th century advocates of “progress”, evidently.

            BTW Adam, you may not be familiar with typical Romanian or Slovak anti-Hungarian hate sites perhaps, but the text written by Observer here is a very typical description of the ancestors of Hungarians that one will find on such sites, who evidently were uncivilized, backwards and were given the gift of “civilization” by the native Europeans, which the nasty Hungarians wronged so much by their arrival. And yet I am the one being censored? This arguably qualifies as hate speech, which I did not engage in, just simply labeled an ideology. Labeled it something that is less than offensive, given that even Canada has a political party calling itself “Marxist-Lenninist”. What does this say about your values?

  4. György Lázár says:

    Wonder if the Liu brothers want to stay in Hungary…. from an interview:

    Q to SL: if Shaolin won the lottery, what would he spend it on?

    SL: I think he would leave Hungary and he would find a better place like Hawaii or the Bahamas and just live there. He would probably like to buy a house there.

    SSL: No, I would buy a car first! A really nice one. Then I would move somewhere else, maybe England.

    https://www.isu.org/short-track/short-track-skating-news/interviews/11451-feature-liu-brothers?templateParam=15

    • Of course they would. After all, more than 500 000 Hungarians left to work/live abroad and more than a million would if they could.

  5. Raja Mary Tallós says:

    I would like to know if there is a video of the medal ceremony for this event please?

  6. This victory of the 4 boys-two of them once “foreigners”-an evident proof that Hungary is a receptive , friendly country, giving all support for other nationalities,who accept-and respect his rules, culture, habits.
    As for the Chinese brothers, their mother is Hungarian.
    This is great!We love them!

    • KFekete
      “ Hungary is a receptive, friendly …giving all support for other nationalities..”
      Brazen and outrageous lies KF! As u haven’t heard/read anything coming from the Orbán and the hateful fascists here.

      KLARI FEKETE IS A LYING TOAD!
      (How do u like this? At least it’s true).

    • Raja Mary Tallós says:

      Yes,that is correct and they are indeed Hungarian in every way. But I don’t believe this should be about ethnicites in Hungary, but rather about athletic accomplishments regardless of nationality. I am not minimizing the efforts and achievement of the brothers, but believe we should recognize that Viktor is a 4 time Olympian, from a city that does or did not even have an ice ring.
      As a mother of a Hungarian-American Olympic short track speedskater I know very well what effort it took for Viktor to achieve this, and if I were to guess, I would bet that he did not have the luxury of having private elite coaches brought in from a country known for good short track.

  7. János Ferenc HIDI says:

    Ez az olimpiai győzelem és a résztvevők benne könnyet hoznak a szemembe és igen majdnem sírok… Én Kanadába élek 1966 után és nagyon értékelem az itteni új hazámnak az élet rendszerét és a multi Kulturális életünket. Csak egy pár hete kaptam meg az én személyi Gene-Analizáltciómat ami egy óriási meglepetés volt. 100 %-ig biztos vagyok benne hogy nagyon sok magyarnak talán a többségnek egy nagyon hasonló eredmény lepné meg őket.Az igazság hogy igazi magyar magyar már nincsen régóta. Szerintem több ezer év óta . Nagyon kevés nemzet van a világon ahol az etnikai keveredés olyan mértékben volt mint a magyaroknál. Az üzenetem a magyaroknak mint testvéremnek, hogy a mi Jo Istenünknek van egy terve velünk amiről mi nem tudunk. Ez az ő titka. Azért vannak titkai mert ő teremtett minket… és még több………? A szovernity az Övé Csinálhat azt amit ő akar. Csak gondolkozzatok ezen és azon hogy miután ezt a magyar született testet a lelketek elhagyja hova megy ??? Vagy csak a giliszták esznek meg.Gondolkozzatok róla hogy az eredetiünk itt a földön mindnyájunknak ugyanaz Ádám és Éva.A lelkem nagyon gyakran veletek van és mindig könnyes szemmel gondolok az eredetemre.

  8. TILLI and EDWARD;

    How about the slaughtering of tens of millions of cows, pigs, chickens, and other birds, horses,even cats. Some places even snakes, that have their blood drained alive(Japan). And how about cooking lobsters alive?
    Could you name something that humans do not destroy deliberately upon the face of this Earth?
    Do not forget wars ! Deliberate and premeditated mass destruction and slaughter of masses of humanity, that is our fellow human beings.

    Like the Romans had the saying; ‘ wolves do not hunt nor eat wolves’.
    Are we better than those wolves,or any other creatures?

  9. In fact there was even an American on the Hungarian Winter Olympics team who was able to claim Hungarian citizenship through her grandmother. Fair enough. This proves that to Orban and company, multiculturalism is fine as long as it serves some national interest. Otherwise it is good to scare voters into believing that somebody is trying to steal their nation from beneath them.
    As for the “Ancestors of the Hungarians”, any reading of Hungarian history will tell you that without immigrants there would be no Hungarians. That many of those came and assimilated helped to preserve something of the Hungarian “identity”, but just look at the population following the liberation from the Ottoman occupation and you will begin to understand what happened to the “Hungarians”. (Not to mention what the Mongols did in the 13th century.)

  10. Boys born in Hungary, grew up in Hungary, have NOT adopted Hungarian “culture” ?
    Their father may be more adopted to Chineese culture than any readers of this article.
    But why do discriminate against anybody?

    Or may be it’s in what you eat and drink?
    Or what else?

  11. Does it really matter if their father is Chinese and their mother is Hungarian? They were born and raised in Hungary. They are Hungarian!! We should all be proud of them!!

  12. Thanks Richard, at least I am not alone on this !

    We are ALL humans, that is the point !!!

  13. Well done to Hungary winning gold.

    But why has no article been written about the two teammates, Viktor Knoch and Csaba Burján, as outstanding examples of the success of immigration too?

    Yes, both born in Pécs, Hungary.. and are “Hungarian” but their names suggest that one is ethnically German and one is ethnically Slovak.

    My rhetorical point is that simply because one is white, they will never be viewed as immigrants, the same way that the Liu brothers will forever be.

    And that is the unfortunate. The Liu family could be 5th generation Hungarians in 2150 and will still be viewed as more foreign than a German family who moved to Hungary in 2145.

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