Skating siblings: Hungary's Liu brothers are going for gold in Beijing
Updated 23:30, 29-May-2021
Nick Moore


Two of the world's best male short-track speed skaters, Hungary's Shaolin Sandor Liu and his younger brother Shaoang Liu, have got their eye firmly fixed on winning gold medals at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games – with a little help from their Chinese father.

Shaoang, 23, is the current overall short-track world champion and 500m champion. Elder brother Shaolin, 25, recently took the world 1,000m world title. The pair also combined at the Pyeongchang 2018 Games to win Hungary's first ever Winter Olympic gold medal, in the men's relay.

Born in Budapest to a Hungarian mother and Chinese father, the siblings hope their Chinese roots, connections and experiences will help give them an edge.

"My mum and dad had a perfect balance – my mum gave us the 'European love,' but my dad gave 'Chinese love,' which is tough and teaches you to prepare for life," says Shaolin.

"In Hungary, people can see I have Chinese blood, while in China people also ask where we're from, but we speak perfect Chinese. When I was little, me and my brother trained in northern China, so we speak northern Chinese."


Shaoang Liu with his Chinese father. /Shaoang Liu

Shaoang Liu with his Chinese father. /Shaoang Liu

The pair have traveled extensively in the country and spent a year-and-a-half developing their skills in one of the world's leading short-track skating nations.

"We trained in China for one-and-a-half years, from 2007, thanks to our dad," says Shaoang. "It was a life-changing moment, because we got to see the difference between the European skaters and the other skaters. The top level were all from Asia, U.S., Canada."

The duo were almost unknown in both Hungary and China prior to Pyeongchang 2018. Afterwards, it was a totally different matter. "It was a huge thing and a long road," says Shaoang. "We were the eighth team to qualify for the Olympics – the last team. So to win it was a good story.

"In Korea, people started recognizing us, then at the airport, too. I went out to Pyeongchang with 5,000 Instagram followers and came back with 100,000. It was massive. Back home, people wanted to party with us and then people started recognizing us in China. We want to be even bigger in Beijing, that's our dream.

"We were lucky to get into this. We started in 2005, but nobody in Hungary knew the sport. We just loved to skate. We went to the rink and fell in love with short track."


The Liu brothers are targeting gold in Beijing. /Shaoang Liu

The Liu brothers are targeting gold in Beijing. /Shaoang Liu


Shaoang added: "Before in Hungary, they'd never had a gold medal, so it was a nice experience and we came back with good memories. The road was tough. We fought a lot, trained a lot, suffered a lot. But we are brothers and we do everything together, and we're always there for each other. My brother supported me on the track and off it."

Their upward trajectory has continued apace. In 2019, Shaolin became European Short Track overall champion, with his brother in second place. The season after, Shaoang won gold in the European championships, with Shaolin getting silver. And in March 2021, Shaoang became World Champion for the first time, with Shaolin in second place.

"After 2018, we didn't give up, we wanted to keep going at the top level, we kept training hard," says Shaoang. "So that is our goal in Beijing, to win medals for Hungary. We have got good motivation after the World Championships.

"We are lucky because we won in Pyeongchang, together, and that was special, we want the same feeling again. It's a huge opportunity."


The Liu brothers are hoping their Chinese roots will give them an edge in Beijing. /Shaolin Sandor Liu

The Liu brothers are hoping their Chinese roots will give them an edge in Beijing. /Shaolin Sandor Liu


They hope the crowd will get behind them, as they try to add the ultimate accolade – individual gold medals – to their collection.

"We are lucky, the Olympics being in Beijing means it's a half home crowd for us," says Shaolin. "It's going to be a nice rink, the tickets are sold out, and our sport is still growing. Out of 1.4 billion people, many people are going to remember us."

Shaoang said: "Our biggest sponsor, Li-Ning sportswear, is Chinese. He was a Chinese gymnast who started his own company.

"We go [to China] every year, so it's not new ground for us. We love the food, we love the culture, we can speak the language, there's nothing that can surprise us. So we are ready for it.

"If half of them cheer for us, that's already a win for us. And we know the Chinese government and Hungarian government have a good partnership."

Shaolin concluded: "And they have us now, so it's a good relationship."

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