Vincent Zhou had a roller coaster of a journey getting to the 2022 Winter Olympics, from finishing 25th at the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships (failing to qualify for the free skate) to winning Skate America seven months later.
It turns out his experience at these Games is a roller coaster as well.
Hours after earning the Olympic team event silver medal, Zhou and U.S. Figure Skating announced that he is unable to compete in the men's singles competition due to a positive COVID-19 test.
"This absolutely does not define me, as an athlete, as a person," Zhou said in a nearly 5-minute video posted to his Instagram. "I am more than just another positive COVID-19 test, I am more than just another face in the crowd."
The 21-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
On Sunday, he had competed in the men's free skate portion of the team event, contributing eight points to Team USA's score.
He was set to compete in the men's short program Tuesday and free skate Thursday.
As Zhou fought back tears in the emotional video, the two-time Olympian reflected on his challenging but rewarding journey to his younger self: "You lived out your dreams, became the person you always aspired to be."
Messages of support began to flood in for the 2019 world bronze medalist, including this from the 1992 Olympic champion:
Heartbroken for you @govincentzhou but you are a warrior and champion AND an Olympic silver medalist. Get healthy and I know from your message that you will be back stronger than ever
Zhou ended the message with, “I will be back stronger than, better than, this is not the end, this is a set up for a better comeback.”