Julian Yee Zhi-Jie recently made history by becoming the first-ever Malaysian figure skater to qualify for the upcoming Winter Olympics
"It has been a long, tiring, and meaningful journey. The milestone has been achieved and Malaysia will for sure be at the 2018 Winter Olympics! I've finally made it! Thank you to everyone who has supported me and given me the strength. Without you guys, it would be impossible," Julian said in a post on his Instagram account.
The good news comes just several weeks after the 20-year-old emerged as the 2017 SEA Games gold medallist.
While the idea of figure skating is perhaps foreign to some, Julian's achievement to qualify for the Pyeongchang 2018 Games is a significant milestone especially since Malaysia does not have the climate for winter sports.
The homegrown figure skater will definitely make the nation proud, having earned the spot to represent Malaysia in the prestigious sporting event to compete alongside world-class figure skaters next year.
By qualifying for the Winter Games, Julian is hoping to step up his preparations, which started way earlier.
However, there's just one problem — the funds for Julian's trainings are running dry.
Julian has been skating since he was four. His family has been very supportive of his interest in the sport and they have done their best to ensure that he lives up to his potentials. From paying coaches and trainers to getting the best equipment to accommodation fees and more, everything has been financed by his family.
However, Julian and his family have now run out of resources as they only have enough budget to last him until the qualifiers.
"Training is expensive and a serious competitive skater like me needs to train overseas as there are no experienced coaches nor proper facilities here. I have been training for short stints in China, South Korea, and Canada as I cannot afford proper long-term training," Julian said.
"Now that I've earned the spot (in the Winter Olympics), I require the funding to train for the Games," he added.
It takes years of training and discipline to reach this level of competency and class, and the five-time national champion has reached this far without the luxury of proper facilities and guidance. However, in the days leading up the the Winter Olympics, Julian hopes to get the best training possible and give his very best during the competition.
He realises that this is one of the challenges that he has to face to chase after that elusive Olympic ambition, but it's all or nothing.
As Julian said it himself, "I don't dream, I set goals."
Since figure skating is not as popular as some other sports, there are limited funding opportunities and sponsorship deals are almost unheard of
"Unfortunately due to the nature of the sport not being a core sport in Malaysia, financial aid from the government was minimal and contributions from corporate sponsors none."
"It is hoped that this will change with the success of the SEA Games and the inclusion of Malaysia in the 2018 Winter Olympics," Julian wrote on his social media accounts.
This was also echoed by Julian's mother, Irene Cheow.
Julian and his family are hoping that as athletes excel in sports, their results would open more opportunities in the future for them to have easier access to funding that would help to achieve better outcomes.
Despite the challenges, Julian and his family are not giving up. They have been trying all sorts of ways to find resources and will continue to do so until all options are exhausted.
"At present, we are looking at training and living expenses in Canada as well as competition expenses."
"The cost of getting Julian and his coach to the Olympic Winter Games are high and at this moment, we are to bear all the expenses and fees of the coach as well. We are also looking for corporate sponsorships," Irene told SAYS.
With just less than five months until the Olympic Winter Games in February, Julian and his family have appealed to individuals and corporations to be a part of his journey to Pyeongchang 2018 and lend any kind of financial contribution as it is crucial for him to start his training immediately.
Any financial contribution channelled to Julian will add to his chances to excel at the Winter Olympic Games as he strives to deliver the best results.
Here's what you can do to support his journey:
Head over to Julian's GoFundMe campaign campaign to contribute by donating to his cause.
Thanks to the generous donations from contributors from all walks of lives, Julian has managed to raise more than CAD13,000 (about RM43,000) since he turned to the crowdsourcing platform some 20 months ago.
He hopes to gather a total of CAD60,000 (about RM202,000), which is the estimated amount needed that will see him getting trained under experienced coaches at proper facilities for the Winter Olympics.
"It is such an honour to be able to qualify Malaysia in to the Winter Olympics for the very first time. This would only be possible provided I have sufficient support. Please do support and join me on the Road to Pyeongchang 2018."
You can stay updated with all the recent developments on Julian's journey to Pyeongchang by following his community page on Facebook or even on the GoFundMe campaign page itself.