Fan Yilin first turned heads when she- along with Madison Kocian, Daria Spiridonova, and Viktoria Komova- became world champion on uneven bars back in 2015. Her brilliance on uneven bars and her stable beam work set her up perfectly for the 2016 Rio squad. Five years and another World title later, she heads the 2021 Chinese Olympic squad as the Olympic veteran with hopes for gold.
Like the rest of the foreign athletes, upon arrival to Narita Airport, the Chinese delegation was met with warm greetings and dreadfully long Covid testing procedures. “Although we arrived very late, the organizing committee staff greeted us very warmly, they were very accommodating.” Fan said upon arrival to the Olympic Village her first impression was that it was very “clean”. Even though the living arrangements are not too spacious, they are still equipped for the athletes to have a comfortable stay.
Due to the rising Covid cases, Japan issued a state of emergency for the greater Tokyo area- heightening skepticism around whether the Olympic Games can be held safely. Tight measures have been put in place to detect, trace, and contain the spread of the virus. “Seeing the safety protocols put in place makes me feel relieved. When we go out we always wear our masks to protect ourselves.”
Upon the first day of training, the gymnasts did a light workout to maintain form. “Today we did training to adapt to the new environment,” Fan said. “I am familiar with the venue and the equipment, the gym was very clean. We had a good training.”
On top of the normal pressure that comes with competing at the Olympic Games, the new pressures of dodging Covid and saving your Olympic dream will be a whole other hurdle to overcome. Although these Games will be a totally different experience than her last, Fan’s maturity and poise will guide her to overcome the challenges.
Photo courtesy of 体操圈