Go to contents

Simon Cho: From Illegal Alien to US Olympic Member

Posted January. 15, 2010 08:09,   


Simon Cho’s family in 1996 illegally entered the U.S. via Vancouver when he was four years old. Next month, he will return to the Canadian city with the U.S. short-track speed skating team to compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The Washington Post yesterday featured the athlete in the two-page story “Simon Cho`s Olympic speedskating opportunity rewards his family`s investment,” telling he defied the odds.

Cho’s father went to the U.S. in 1993, leaving his family back in Seoul. Since he had to wait seven years to get a green card, he had his family sneak into American soil in 1996. Cho, his mother and his two-year-old sister first went to Vancouver and crossed the border. The family obtained permanent residency in 2001 and became American citizens in 2004.

Cho’s parents devoted themselves to helping him join the U.S. Olympic team. They even sold a restaurant to raise the 40,000 U.S. dollars a year needed for their son’s training. Thanks to the investment, Cho became the youngest member of the U.S short-track speed skating team at age 15.

Unfortunately, however, he dropped out last season and subsequently lost his subsidies from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Worse, his father’s business declined.

Cho never gave up, however, and made the U.S. Olympic team in September last year.

His father said, “We’re halfway to the American dream. If Simon wins some medals, it means we’ve achieved the American dream.”