14 August 2023 | in Summer FISU World University Games
“After winning the third gold medal at the Chengdu FISU Games, I want to tell myself that I did it, I have no regrets,” said Lee Chih-kai, an artistic gymnast from Chinese Taipei, who won the gold medal in the men’s pommel horse with a score of 15.500.
Lee made history as the only artistic gymnast to win gold in three consecutive FISU World University Games.
Lee’s journey with the FISU Games dates back to the Gwangju event in 2015.
“He performed quite well on pommel horse at that Games, but he wasn’t experienced enough, so we ended up losing the match,” said Lin Yu-hsin, who has been coaching Lee for more than 20 years, since Lee was 6 years old. Their story has even been made into a documentary called Jump! Boys.
The Gwangju event marked the starting point for Lee, who has since competed in numerous international tournaments and continues to work with his coach Lin to fulfil his Olympic dream.
The Chengdu event was Lee’s fourth FISU Games. For him, the most impressive was the one in 2017.
“I had participated in many events before, but never won a medal. Finally, at the Taipei 2017 FISU Games, I won my first medal on the international stage”.
In the eyes of coach Lin, this was an important turning point: “Lee showed the challenging “Thomas Flair” on pommel horse, which amazed all the judges and spectators and helped him to win the gold medal. By winning the medal, Lee started to build his confidence, his performance style and became an athlete with high stress resistance”.
Since then, with his trademark “Thomas flair”, Lee has gone on to dominate several major international competitions. He even became Olympic silver medallist on pommel horse in Tokyo with a near flawless performance.
The idea of performing “Thomas Flair” on the pommel horse actually came from his coach: “Lee and I were discussing how to get people’s attention and I thought of the famous “Thomas Flair” routine I used to do in nightclubs to attract girls! It is much more difficult to do “Thomas Flair” on the pommel horse than on the floor. But Lee’s body shape is perfect for this move, so we spent 10 years gradually training him to do it, and from people’s reactions we know we did the right thing”.
Lee believes that over the past 10 years, he has transformed from a young student athlete who was easily nervous to a man with a stronger mindset.
“Now I know that all I have to do is concentrate, on the game and on my performance without worrying about other people’s opinions,” he said.
By concentrating on what needs to be done, he is able to achieve a balance between different roles.
Today, Lee is not only an athlete, but also a husband and father. For him, the Chengdu Games mark the end of his role as a student-athlete, but his journey to excellence continues. Lee and Lin’s next goal is to win gold at the Paris Olympics.