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China superfan spends hundreds on Olympic memento obsession

Stuffed on each and every to be had floor in Zhang Wenquan’s crowded Beijing house is Olympic memorabilia-from mascots and torches to flags, banners, garments and cuddly toys. The Chinese language superfan scours the web for uncommon souvenirs and snaps selfies a number of instances per week by means of the countdown clock to the 2022 Iciness Video games within the capital. Beijing will turn out to be the primary town to host each the Summer season and Iciness Olympics when the development kicks off in February-a dream come true for the development company employee. Zhang’s pastime was once first piqued when he changed into glued to the 2000 Sydney Olympics as a high-school scholar.

“I noticed China win many gold medals and felt impressed,” the 35-year-old instructed AFP. When the Video games got here to Beijing in 2008, he labored as an reliable volunteer-a life-changing revel in that sparked his hobby for amassing souvenirs. Dressed in a 2022 Iciness Olympics shawl and sweatshirt emblazoned with its mascot-plus a headscarf studying “Come on, Iciness Olympics!”-Zhang presentations off the array of products masking his house.

The home is so filled with piles of bins that he has been pressured to sleep in different places. He estimates spending a minimum of 400,000 yuan ($62,800) on 5,000 souvenirs thus far. Zhang scours eBay day-to-day for brand spanking new listings, with the most costly to find being a $1,900 torch from the 2002 Salt Lake Town Iciness Olympics. He has row upon row of the mascot “Bing Dwen Dwen” for the approaching Iciness Video games-a panda dressed in a shell fabricated from ice-in quite a lot of colours and sizes.

He additionally receives donations of products from Olympic volunteers. “A few of these other folks I’ve by no means even met however they nonetheless ship issues to me, so I think extraordinarily moved,” he mentioned. His assortment is now being displayed in native colleges and universities within the run-up to the Video games. He proudly confirmed off to AFP certainly one of his favorites, a first-edition mascot for the 1972 Munich Video games that was once later redesigned. “I pay attention that there are most effective 10 of the unique, so this can be very uncommon,” he mentioned, sparsely turning the small brown dachshund figurine over in his fingers.

Chinese language pleasure

In 2008, Zhang helped with scoring at Beijing’s Wukesong Baseball Stadium-a photograph from the time presentations a scrawny, bespectacled younger guy in a sky-blue Olympic jersey proudly maintaining a baseball bat aloft in an empty area. In his cluttered space, a framed certificates of participation hangs at the wall.

The mega-fan mentioned he steadily skipped foods all through the Video games to gather the foods and drinks tokens given to volunteers relatively than exchanging them for supplies-despite catching a chilly. “I suffered now not a small quantity again then!” he chuckled. However Zhang was once intoxicated by means of the ambience in 2008 at a time of unusual nationwide pleasure. China gained 48 gold medals and displayed its rising power as a world energy. Zhang was once now not a hit within the aggressive variety procedure to be a 2022 volunteer however hopes to procure tickets for the outlet and shutting ceremonies-as neatly as his favourite recreation, determine skating.

He lately makes widespread journeys to Beijing’s Olympic websites. His face lighting fixtures up when he recounts ready out of doors the capital’s “Fowl’s Nest” stadium all through a get dressed practice session for February’s Video games, observing rays of sunshine beam into the evening sky. “The stadium was once lit up spectacularly, it was once a number of hundred instances extra gorgeous than the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” he mentioned. And Zhang is already planning to visit Paris for the 2024 Video games. “I in point of fact need to gather the Paris 2024 torch and mascot. Even supposing they haven’t been launched but, I’m able and ready.”- AFP

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