Nathan Chen now knows the glory of winning Olympic gold following his phenomenal free skate performance in the men’s singles competition.
But long before he took top honors in Beijing, the two-time Olympian already knew the enormous pressure that comes with that athletic quest, as well as the heartbreak of falling short of it.
In a chat with TODAY’s Craig Melvin that aired Thursday, the man dubbed the “quad king” opened up about that stress and raved about the woman who’s become the unofficial spokesperson for the importance of mental health awareness among elite athletes — fellow Olympic great Simone Biles.
"I do know that a lot of athletes are taking a stand for themselves, which I think is really important and really powerful right now," the 22-year-old explained. "Especially considering the champion of it all, with Simone Biles at the last Olympics."
Biles, widely considered the greatest gymnast of all time, famously withdrew from several team and individual all-around events at the Tokyo Games in 2021, stating that she felt as though she was carrying “the weight of the world” on her shoulders.
Later, in an interview with her mother, Biles said that the compassionate reaction she received from the public and fellow athletes marked "the first time (she) felt human" in the public eye.
"I think what she did was just remarkable."
Chen said of GOAT gymnast Simone Biles.
It's a perspective that resonates with Chen.
"I think what she did was just remarkable," he explained during his TODAY interview. "Truly putting out (there) that we, as athletes, are humans first. We should respect ourselves as humans first."
Back in 2018, when Chen performed at his first Olympics in Pyeongchang, he experienced nervousness that led him to deliver a disastrous short program — one that left him out of the running for a medal in the men’s singles that year.
"There’s always good days, bad days," he said of the stress he feels as an Olympian. "Fortunately, I have a really strong team around me: People that support me when things are not so great. I have people to fall back on."
With his support system in place and a gold medal around his neck, now the question Chen’s fans around the world are asking is whether he’ll endure the pressure of another Olympics and go for the gold again in the 2026 Games.
"I don’t really know what the future holds for me," he said when considering that. "But right now, (I’ll) just enjoy this moment — one that’s not super easy to come by."