Olympic memorabilia, from mascots and torches to flags, banners, clothing and stuffed animals, are on every available surface in Zhang Wenquan’s crowded Beijing home.
The Chinese superfan searches the internet for rare souvenirs and takes selfies several times a week before the countdown clock for the 2022 Winter Games in the capital.
Zhang’s interest was first piqued when he joined the Sydney 2000 Olympics as a high school student.
When the Games came to Beijing in 2008, he worked as an official volunteer, a life-changing experience that sparked his passion for collecting memories.
The house is so full of piles of boxes that he has been forced to sleep elsewhere.
Zhang scours eBay daily for new listings, with the most expensive find being a $ 1,900 torch from the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
It also receives merchandise donations from Olympic volunteers.
His collection is now on display in local schools and universities in the run-up to the Games.
“I heard there are only 10 of the original, so it’s extremely rare,” he said, carefully turning the little brown dachshund figure in his hands.
In 2008, Zhang helped score at Beijing’s Wukesong Baseball Stadium: A photo from the period shows a scrawny young man in glasses and a sky-blue Olympic jersey proudly holding a baseball bat aloft in an empty arena.
The mega fan said that he often skipped meals during the Games to collect the food and drink tokens given to the volunteers rather than exchange them for supplies, despite catching a cold.
But Zhang was intoxicated by the atmosphere in 2008 at a time of extraordinary national pride.
Zhang was unsuccessful in the competitive selection process to volunteer for 2022, but he hopes to get tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as his favorite sport, figure skating.
His face lights up when he says he waited outside the capital’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium during a dress rehearsal for the February Games, seeing streaks of light in the night sky.
And Zhang is already making plans to go to Paris for the 2024 Games.
lxc / rox / axn / qan