Patrick Chan: “Make sure you soak it all in!”

I’m really excited to be an Athlete Role Model at Lausanne 2020. I honestly don’t know what to expect from my time at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), because I’ve only really known the Olympic experience from an athlete’s perspective – so it will be really interesting to be on the other side and acting as a mentor for all of you. I’ve been in your position before, so I know what it’s like, and I know how helpful it can be to have people in the background supporting you.

  • Patrick Chan is a three-time world champion and an Olympic gold medallist in figure skating.
  • Having retired from competitive skating last year after winning gold with Team Canada in PyeongChang, he will now be attending Lausanne 2020 as an Athlete Role Model.
  • Patrick believes the YOG represent an incredible opportunity for young athletes, and is eager to share his experiences with you.

The YOG will be a great opportunity for you to ask us all about our experiences, but it’s not just a one-way road; I think it’s great that we, as retired athletes, also get a chance to be involved in your development. So while this is a very much a new role for me, I’m going into it with an open mind, and I hope to learn from all of you just as much as you will hopefully learn from us.

You may never feel that you need to ask for our help or advice, but sometimes it can be comforting to know that someone is there on your side, who has experienced the same things and who has been in the same shoes that you’re in at this exact moment.

So don’t be shy; please come up and say what you have to say. I would love to meet everyone and encourage you all to ask any questions you have. That’s what I’m there for, and I have all the time in the world to chat; so please, please don’t be shy about coming up to me to talk.

Try to stay focused

Distractions are the number one factor that you have to get used to at an event like the Olympics. It feels like you’re a freshman in university; it’s like the orientation week because you’re meeting a lot of new people from very different sports. It’s very easy to get carried away and forget your plan and what you’re actually there to do. So I would just tell you to stick to the plan, focus on what you and your coach have discussed and your plan of attack for the event. Just try to stay focused and still have fun. You can definitely find a good fun-work balance, so that you can still have a good experience and also feel very much focused and ready to perform when it comes to the day of your event.

Make time for yourself

Events like the Olympics can be a melting pot of emotions, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. It’s important to learn to trust yourself and not get intimidated or scared. And then you also need to learn when it’s the right time to walk away and take your own personal time to rest your nervous system and rest your physical body, because you can definitely lose track of how exhausting and how stimulated you’re getting at an event like this.

Enjoy the experience

The main thing is to enjoy it; really soak it in like a sponge. Don’t be scared to have fun. As I said before, you need to have your plan, but you can allow yourself to have time to explore and have conversations. One of the best things about my career is the friends I’ve made at every Olympics, so be sure to make some really good lasting friendships because you may see these people down the road. So follow your plan of attack, but also just take it all in because it only comes once in a lifetime.

This is just the beginning

Remember that this is the very beginning of your journey, so try to keep your expectations low and just focus on your own performance and achieving your own personal best. Don’t be too concerned with what your competitors or the other athletes are achieving, because they have a different path to you. Even though this is the Youth Olympic Games, it’s still just another event and another experience, so keep an open mind, keep things light and fresh, and just be in the present.

A new perspective

Since retiring in 2018, I’ve had my own challenges to deal with, and I would say that I’m now a very different person to what I was while I was still skating. Sometimes you can see things much more clearly once you’ve taken a few steps back, and I definitely see my career differently now. I have a whole new perspective and I can’t wait to share that with you in Lausanne, because it’s really helped me move on with my life.

We’re here to help

I hope you all know that the Athlete Role Models are there to help you as much as we can. We’ve all gone through the highs and lows of an athlete’s life, and I want to just remind all of you that it’s all about pursuing your own goals. I know that that’s hard to focus on sometimes; you can get lost at an event like the Olympics and get really distracted or start thinking that it’s all about the results. But really, it’s about attaining your own goals and staying focused on those.

In the build-up to Lausanne 2020, we will be hearing from an Athlete Role Model from each winter sport. Follow @Athlete365 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.