Sat, Sep 02, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Taipei Universiade: Deputy head of US team ‘marries’ 92-year-old

Staff writer, with CNA

Nels Hawkinson, deputy head of the US delegation to the Taipei Summer Universiade, gets a kiss from 92-year old Chu Tsai-yun at a ceremony at the Westin Taipei hotel on Thursday, as the team donated its jerseys, caps, polo shirts, T-shirts and backpacks to Grace Home Church Association.

Photo: CNA, provided by Leofoo Tourism Group

Even though he is a happily married man, that did not stop Nels Hawkinson, deputy head of the US delegation to the Taipei Summer Universiade, from “marrying” a Taiwanese woman at a ceremony in Taipei on Thursday.

Wearing Chinese-style gold-and-red wedding clothes with a USA team cap, Hawkinson was all smiles as he introduced his “bride” — 92-year-old Chu Tsai-yun (朱彩雲) — to a roomful of people at the Westin Taipei hotel.

A donation ceremony was held at the hotel that day and Hawkinson represented the US team in donating jerseys, caps, polo shirts, T-shirts and backpacks to Grace Home Church Association, a local non-profit organization that provides meals, shelter and other services for poor people.

Hawkinson’s “bride,” as he called her, is a recipient of relief from the association. He met her last year during a charitable event in the nation.

Hawkinson said he was immediately taken with Chu, who he said “had joy in her heart” despite being in need.

He said that he and Chu had a “second date” 12 days ago during an outreach event organized by Grace Home in New Taipei City.

The US women’s soccer team attended the event and encouraged disadvantaged youngsters to turn their lives around with sports.

“I’ve had so many memories in my two weeks in Taiwan, and I think this will be my favorite memory,” Hawkinson said of the friendship he developed with Chu.

To spice up the donation ceremony, a Taiwanese-style “wedding cake” was prepared to celebrate the pair’s friendship.

Hawkinson said he first visited Taiwan in 1979 as a basketball player and fell in love with Taiwanese.

He praised the performance of Taiwanese athletes at the Universiade, saying it is “unbelievable” and “surreal” that the team finished third in the medals table, beating such countries as Russia and the US.

“You should be incredibly proud,” he said.

Hawkinson, who is on his fifth trip to Taiwan in the past 18 months, said he met association head Edward Hsieh (謝冠雄) during one of his trips and the two hit it off instantly and began planning outreach events where US athletes and coaches can make an impact.

Hawkinson also invited Estonia, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland and other nations to join the charitable efforts and donate their apparel and medical supplies to those in need at Grace Home.

Those countries donated a total of 30 boxes of new clothes.

Thanking the US delegation, Hsieh said he believes that the greatness of a team is not defined by how many medals they win at an event, but by “what they leave in the city where they compete.”

“A lot of athletes last night said ‘thank you, Taipei,’ but today, representing Grace Home and the people in Taiwan, I want to say: ‘Thank you, USA,’” he said.

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