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Xander Schauffele Aims for Gold. His Dad Finally Gets to the Olympics.

Xander Schauffele Aims for Gold. His Dad Finally Gets to the Olympics.
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Xander Schauffele Aims for Gold. His Dad Finally Gets to the Olympics.

Xander Schauffele Aims for Gold. His Dad Finally Gets to the Olympics.

Xander ScHotele has always watched the Summer Olympics grow. He did not have a choice. Her father, Stefan, is a former Olympic hopeful for Germany in the decathlon.

“My dad loved to watch athletics,” ScHotele said.

Stefan’s Olympic aspirations ended almost 40 years ago when his car was hit by a drunk driver and a piece of windshield got lodged in Stefan’s left eye. Despite several surgeries, the vision of the eye was never restored. Stéphane was 20 years old.

“His dream was snatched away from him,” Xander Sc Chaudele, fifth in the men’s golf world rankings, said in an interview last week. “As a young golfer, I could understand a situation where something you have worked for so many years is taken away from you. It was tragic. “

When golf returned as an Olympic sport in 2016 after an absence of 112 years, ScHotele, who had just joined the PGA Tour, suddenly had a new goal beyond his major title hopes. Qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics would be an opportunity to realize a family ambition.

Or as Stefan, who has been his son’s swing trainer throughout his life, said last week: “Kind of like a full circle of my own dream.”

In Japan on Thursday (Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. EST), ScHotele will start the first round of the Olympic men’s golf competition. Due to the protocols established for hosting the Games amid the pandemic, he was only allowed to bring one person with him from his hometown of San Diego to the Olympics. Stefan made the trip to Japan.

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This decision may have seemed obvious, but for the ScHotele there were other considerations. Alex’s mother, Ping-Yi Chen, who met Stefan when they were both students at the University of San Diego, was born in Taiwan but raised in Japan and has nearly 100 parents living in the Tokyo area.

Alex has made 15 trips to Japan and has remained close to his maternal grandparents in Tokyo, although he is not sure if he will be able to visit them during or after the Olympics. Interactions between participating athletes and Japanese citizens were restricted.

“But I’m going to keep asking to see them,” ScHotele said. “I hope we can find something.”

More than 40 ScHotele’s family members living in Japan had planned to attend all four rounds of the men’s Olympic golf tournament until a growing number of Covid-19 cases prompted authorities to ban spectators from the events games.

In America, the pandemic has also led to an escalation in violence against Asians. Acknowledging these crimes last week, Sc Chaudele questioned whether the Tokyo Olympics could help play a beneficial role.

“There is a lot of this Asian hate coming out now that is secret,” ScHotele said, adding, “With social media it’s coming to life faster. I think it’s a good thing we’re going to Japan. and let’s compete – you know, spread the love. It’s pure competition that has nothing to do with race. That’s why I love sport in general.

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ScHotele will be one of four Americans in the Olympic golf competition and a favorite to win a gold medal at Kasumigaseki Country Club, about 23 miles north of Tokyo, given his record in major championships. He has been a serious Masters contender twice in the past three years, including three months. He has been in the top five at the US Open three times and tied for second at the 2018 British Open.

Stefan equated a victory at the Olympics to one of the four major tournaments in men’s professional golf.

“It’s not a major fifth,” Stefan said, “but it’s as important as a major.”

Xander Sc Chaudele didn’t disagree.

“Winning a gold medal is something that no one can take away from you,” he said. “I expect the pressure level to be equal to a big tournament that we play on our normal circuit.”

If Alex is successful, this week’s Olympic golf tournament will be just the start. He is already planning the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Due to the pandemic, organizers urged athletes to arrive in Japan no earlier than five days before their first event, so many competitors did not participate in the Parade of Nations at the opening ceremony.

With his father in mind, ScHotele wants to attend more Olympics, presumably when a pandemic does not alter important rituals.

“To attend the opening ceremony with my dad would be really cool,” he said. “It’s probably something he’s dreamed of doing for a very long time. To go to other Olympics and participate in that ceremony with him, I think that would be really special. “

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