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.

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