30 Jan 2024

15yo old wins NZ's first Olympic ice skating medal

From Checkpoint, 5:49 pm on 30 January 2024

A 15-year-old who scored a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics says he was honoured to represent Aotearoa at the games. 

Yanhao 'Dwayne' Li has made history winning NZ's first ever ice skating medal at any winter olympics. 

He was awarded the medal for his free skating performance at the Winter Youth Olympics in Gangwon, South Korea. 

In an utterly graceful performance, Li pulled off a triple axel and a bunch of other technical moves.

He told Checkpoint it was a special and an emotional moment. 

"I feel very proud to represent New Zealand at such a big event. Seeing the New Zealand flag at the victory ceremony makes me very proud, I feel like all the hard work put in was worth it at the end, and that my training leading up to this has all paid off."

Li said he was very nervous. 

"I was pretty shaky but I managed to control myself well, and I felt very excited being able to perform my programmes at such a big venue and skating to such a big crowd. Especially like the first element, my triple axel, this was my first time trying it in the competition and being able to be on my feet with such a big audience it feels really amazing."

He said the consistency while training for the triple axel manoeuvre was not too bad. 

New Zealand figure skater Yanhao (Dwyane) Li.

New Zealand figure skater Yanhao (Dwyane) Li. Photo: Suplied

"I sometimes doubt myself a little bit while going into that jump but I think going into the competition I had a good mindset leading up to the jump."

He admitted his training got tiring at around six to seven hours a day on the ice for two months, but he was glad he was able to showcase his work. 

To help get into the zone and concentrate, he treated the competition as everyday training.

His family were back in New Zealand cheering him on, so his only support person at the games was his coach. 

Li is now setting his sights on the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei, which starts on 26 February.