Team USA leader 'ties the knot' with Taiwanese grandma

Team USA executive director 'marries' his 92-year-old Taiwanese 'girlfriend'


Nels Hawkinson (left) and Chu Tsai-yun (right). (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Team USA Executive Director Nels Hawkinson yesterday wore a red and gold traditional Chinese magua (馬褂) jacket while "marrying" his 92-year-old "girlfriend," with whom he has bonded with over the past two weeks in Taiwan, reported CNA

At a charity donation event held at The Westin Taipei hotel, Hawkinson told reporters that he fell in love with the people of Taiwan when he first came to the country as a basketball player in 1979, and has taken 5 trips to Taiwan in the past 18 months alone. 

Hawkinson says that at an event in a religious center, he met the elderly Chu Tsai-yun (朱彩雲), and the two hit it off right away becoming good friends. Describing their friendship Hawkinson said, "I like her the most because she has a happy heart, even though she does not have a lot of material possessions."

Hawkinson jokingly told the media that his "second date" with Chu was at a public welfare event in Tamsui 12 days ago. He said that Chu held his hand tightly the entire time and it was one of his best memories over the past two weeks. 

(CNA image)

At their mock wedding ceremony, Chu gave Hawkinson a Taiwanese style wedding moon cake and kissed him on the cheek. Chu also shyly said in Taiwanese that it was "very good" to be able to take part in this "wedding." 

Hawkinson said that he predicted that Taiwan would reach the third spot on the medal table at this year's Universiade, but no one believed him. Now that Taiwan has taken the third spot, defeating countries with much larger populations such as Russia and the United States in the process, the Taiwanese should feel very proud, added Hawkinson. 

He said that Team USA has not only come to Taiwan to compete, but it also wants to give back to Taiwan. In addition to donating uniforms and sporting goods, it has also donated medical supplies with the hope of being able to help vulnerable groups.