Yao Ming has been quite visible at the Youth Olympics, and not just because he’s one of the tallest Olympians ever.
The Chinese basketball star toured Nanjing as a Youth Olympic ambassador. He stopped for a sitdown chat with Lewis Johnson to look back on his Olympic experience and update on what he’s been doing since retiring in 2011.
Yao said he’s back in college to finish his studies in economic management, with one year left to get a degree.
“A different story now compared to my sports days,” he said. “A lot of paperwork. My neck is a little bit sore.”
He also said seeing the teenage athletes at the Games reminded him of childhood travel.
“Some people maybe for the first time are outside of their country,” Yao said. “I remember my first time outside of the country at 17 years old, heading to Paris. It’s a big change. It’s a big step and also changed a lot for my view.”
Finally, Johnson handed Yao a memorable image from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony, when Yao led the host nation into the Bird’s Nest with Lin Hao, a 9-year-old survivor of that year’s Sichuan earthquake.
“It’s a lot of emotion,” Yao said, reflecting. “The kid, he saved two of his classmates after the earthquake happened. You can see the scar on his head right there. What kind of heart he had right at this age. … That represents the future of China.”
NBCSN coverage of the Youth Olympics continues Wednesday (7-8 p.m. ET) and concludes Thursday with the Closing Ceremony (6:30-8).