Snowboarder Chloe Kim may have won a gold medal in the halfpipe at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but she didn’t exactly embrace the accomplishment.
Kim put the medal in the garbage can at her parents’ house.
“I hated life,” she told Time.
The fame she achieved after becoming a star on the international stage at the age of 17 proved to be quite a challenge. Kim even had trouble coping when people looked at her after she walked in to get a sandwich at a deli near his parents’ home in Southern California.
“The minute I come home, I can’t even go to my goddamn favorite place,” she said. “It makes you angry. I just wanted a day where I was left alone. And it’s impossible. And I appreciate that everyone loves and supports me, but I just wish people could understand what I was going through up to that point. Everyone was like, ‘I just met her, and she’s such a b----.’ I’m not a b----. I just had the most exhausting two months of my life, and the minute I get home I’m getting hassled.”
Kim’s performance in Pyeongchang certainly made headlines. She became the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s in a halfpipe. She’s now considered one of the favorites at the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing.
Kim, who took a break from snowboarding to enroll at Princeton University, said she has also endured racism in the wake of her athletic achievements, noting people reached out to her with hateful messages after she won a silver medal in the halfpipe in the 2014 X Games.
“I ended up crying myself to sleep on the best night of my life,” she said. “At that point, you’re like, ‘OK, who can I turn to? Who has probably dealt with this before?’ I would constantly look for anyone. But there was no one.”
Kim also said unidentified teammates would also pick on her over social media. Then, she broke her ankle during 2019’s U.S. Open.
“I was so burnt out, I just couldn’t do it anymore,” she said. “I felt a little lost. I was in a pretty low, dark place.”
She would experience the similar trappings of fame at Princeton, where people mistook her desire to be left alone for aloofness when she would decline requests from other students to have their picture taken with her.
“And I was like, ‘I don’t want to be here as the snowboarder. I want to be here as a student. I want to be like everyone else. I want to be normal. That’s why I came here,’” she said.
Kim, who decided to return to competitive snowboarding after the pandemic hit in 2020, is definitely not alone in feeling the stress of being an Olympian. She sympathizes with Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from events at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo last year.
“Having that comfort knowing that, ‘Hey, I’m doing something really dangerous, or I’m doing something that is hard on my body, if I mentally can’t do it, then I shouldn’t,’” she said. “It’s in my best interest. Showing the world that you have to put yourself first and give up something like an Olympic gold medal, that was very touching and inspirational.”