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Julian Yee performs his short programme on Friday. © Getty Images
Lunar New Year can wait - for Julian Yee

16 Feb 2018
Gangneung, Korea, February 16, 2018: The Lunar New Year in certain parts of Malaysia could wait for a while. There was something more important happening in another part of Asia: Julian Yee was skating at the Winter Olympics. Julian, whose Chinese name is Yee Zhi Jie, performed admirably in the men’s figure skating short progamme at Gangneung Ice Arena on Friday morning, scoring a season’s best 73.58 points.

Friday also marked the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Dog – but for some in Malaysia they had to take a break from the celebrations. “I think a lot of people, especially close friends, family and friends, they would put Chinese New Year on hold for now, watch me on TV, give me as much support as they can and after that they carry on with the festivities, so I am very thankful for that,” said Julian. “It’s just great to see the flag go up there.”

When asked how he felt to have finally competed on the Olympic stage after qualifying last September, Julian replied: “It feels great, like I could sense relief coming off, finishing the programme and hearing the scores out there and getting a season’s best. “It was definitely a great moment for me. I came out and achieved my goal of not having any regrets.”

Malaysia is one of three South East Asian countries taking part in the Winter Olympics, along with the Philippines and fellow debutants Singapore (short track speed skating), and Julian describes this as a “great moment” for his country and region. “Recently we had the South East Asian Games and for the first time we had ice skating – figure, speed and hockey – so it shows that the sport is growing,” he said.

“Having three South East Asian countries in ice events and it definitely shows in results that we are getting bigger and bigger.” Julian added that competing in the OCA’s 8th Asian Winter Games in Sapporo last February, as well as the World Championships, had helped him prepare for the international atmosphere of the Olympic Games.

“Honestly the crowd everywhere I go is awesome, it doesn’t matter where you come from they are all so supportive.” In the end, the Malaysian’s score of 73.58 was just not good enough to get into the top 24 of 30 skaters to qualify for the free skate the next day, as he finished 25th. Still, Malaysia, South East Asia and Asia in general can take pride in his ground-breaking performance.
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