Andrew Heo reacts during the men's 1000-meter quarterfinals during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 7, 2022 in Beijing.
BEIJING — Andrew Heo has traveled a long way from the day 12 years ago when he was too scared to join older brother, Aaron, and their cousin, Jonathan, on the track at Potomac Speedskating Club.
“My cousins had moved to Maryland, so we went to visit them and (Jonathan) was like, ‘Oh, this gold medalist (Kim Dong-Sung of South Korea) is coming to coach,’” Heo, now 20, said. “They were going to try, and my brother was interested as well. I was the last person in my family to start. I was very scared of it. I was a little kid, and I was very intimidated by the training and everything.
“Now, I’m the last one in my family skating.”
It took a year or two for Andrew, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Warrington, Pennsylvania, to build up enough courage to join Aaron and Jonathan on the track. When he did, he proved a natural.
For about seven years, the family split its time between Maryland and their home in Warrington. When he was 15, Andrew moved to Salt Lake City to pursue his short track career in earnest. He made his world championships debut last season, placing 12th in the 1,500, 20th in the 1,000 and 26th in the 500.
Andrew earned his Olympic spot by winning both the 1,000 and 1,500 at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, held at the Utah Olympic Oval in December.
Here are five things Heo is taking home from his Olympic debut:
A New Favorite Race (Maybe)
Heo arrived in Beijing thinking the 1,500 was his best race. Now, he’s not so sure: while he bowed out in a quarterfinal heat in the 1,500, he made it through to the B Final of the 1,000 and placed seventh.
“I guess I like the 1,000 more than I thought,” Heo said after his semifinal heat. “My best (past) results were, of course, in the 1,500, but I’m becoming more of an all-arounder.”
Prior to Beijing, Heo’s best individual finish had been that 12th place at the 2021 world championships.
“Just to place seventh at my first Olympics, after the results I had at the world cups, definitely means a lot,” Heo said. “I’m very proud of that. It was something that I was not expecting, especially for the 1,000-meter. There’s nothing more I could have asked for.”