Cheltzie Lee: Missing in Action

It's the weekend, remember?

In addition to my previous weird confession, I have another: I often sorely wish that our publishing press would take off so I could financially endorse some of our athletic sisters.  Because I miss the ever living hell out of Cheltzie Lee, and I'm devastated that she hasn't been skating.

For those of you not knowing, Cheltzie is a Chinese-African-American skater from Australia.  Seriously.  A few years ago, she was a rising star when she stepped in to represent Australia in the 2010 Winter Olympics at the last moment.  She was 16.

She was supposed to compete at Sochi in 2014, but she was prevented by injury.  She has stated she intends to skate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but she hasn't been competing professionally over the past three years.  And because there's so little current data on her, we have nothing but speculation and rumors, specifically those which state she's working on a a degree and that it's highly doubtful she's coming back in 2018.

So here we have a gorgeous 23-year-old athlete in her prime, and her once-promising career is already over.

With so few women of African descent in figure-skating, the loss of Cheltzie Lee is like a blow to the gut. For fans, it's painful to type in her name on Youtube and only find old videos. Her only video from this year is a little-watched instructional exercise video which tells us nothing; we don't know if she's going to only coach other skaters from now on, or stay in shape just 'cause. It especially rankles when we know that the expense of the sport was part of her career's demise. From the Daily Telegraph (2010):
Just ask the family of Games star Cheltzie Lee, who have pleaded for financial help after maxing out their savings to pay for the 16-year-old's sporting dream.

Despite finishing in the top 20 of last week's women's figure-skating, the Sydney HSC student has - so far - been given the cold-shoulder by the marketing world, still without a single corporate sponsor.

Unlike her gold-medal rival Yu-Na Kim of South Korea, who pockets $9 million each year in endorsements, Lee touched down in Sydney on Wednesday night and faced numbers of a different kind - a $12,000 bill for her place at the World Championships in Italy in three weeks and last-minute cramming for a Year 12 business studies exam.

...Later this year she will pay to attend an elite skating clinic in Colorado, where her rivals practise four to six months of the year. She can only afford a six-week visit, at a cost of $40,000.

Then there's coaching fees, rink hire, new boots (at $700 a pop) every three to four months, the cost of travel to competitions four times a year and this is one expensive dream.

But as Lee's mother Renita, a part-time school teacher says: "People say it's a choice you make for your sport and that's true, but when you do well the country takes ownership of you and want to be a part of that success. It would just be nice to have some financial support."
So why hasn't Australia taken ownership of this brilliant, beautiful wonder?  She's repped hard for them; why can't they rep for her?  Does her mom need to move back stateside and try her luck here?  Because USA's figure-skating team definitely could use the likes of Cheltzie Lee on its roster.  The USA might not like its brown athletes anymore than the Australians, but its not stupid.  Cheltzie's fandom would easily quadruple, more people would be interested in the sport, and because of athletes like Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, and the Williams sisters, the endorsements might be a little less stingy. 

On a scale of Vanessa James to Surya Bonaly, Cheltzie leans more towards Surya (they're both former gymnasts).  She's graceful yes, but she's also very strong and has a powerful build.  And her fans love her outfits (she and her mother do most of the work on them) which don't have that annoying flesh-colored mesh which never seems to accurately match brown flesh:


If I had the money, I'd wipe this her family's debts clean and made sure she trained and competed in style with no worries other than landing her jumps.  *sigh*  But I live in this reality, and it royally sucks.


  1. *Before I give my thoughts about Cheltzie, let me express my deepest condolences to the victims from Pulse nightclub and to those who are still alive.. God have their backs.*

    Now on Cheltzie. I remembered when you talked about her. I was hopeful for her rise in the ice skating world.Then like you said..she was never heard from again and its sad.

    Other than Tai Babilona, most Black female skaters are barely recognized for their skating.If they aren't being cheated on,they may make a costly mistake that may take them out of the sport for good. Sometimes, I also wonder if it's a case of giving up because of these losses?

    Well,if Cheltzie don't come back,hopefully Vanessa James will be able to do it.

  2. "Cheltzie's fandom would easily quadruple, more people would be interested in the sport, and because of athletes like Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, and the Williams sisters, the endorsements might be a little less stingy."- If she won a lot then yes.

    Yuna Kim had sponsors (that paid for a lot of her stuff) and the endorsements which she got after she started winning. Lee definitely needs sponsors to take the load off financially. If she won then hopefully the endorsements would come. If the AOC is like ours then the athletes are responsible for most of the money they need for training, coaches, and the like.



    I would say it would be better to start a foundation to fund little girls dreams of becoming Olympic level skaters (and all other sports). Yes they need someone to look up to, but you have to lay the groundwork too. It would probably serve her better (if she wanted to continue skating) to come back stateside. BUT she does have age working against her.

  3. Watching Cheltzie compete would be so inspiring for me daughter, who is also mixed with black and Asian. I hope she can make a comeback.

    1. Is your tiny human interested in skating? *blinks*


This blog is strictly moderated. Everyone is now able to comment again, however, all Anonymous posts will be immediately deleted. Comments on posts more than 30 days old are generally dismissed, so try to stay current with the conversations.