My Favourite Chinese Olympic Champions

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I am going to introduce several of my favourite Chinese Olympic champions and their profiles, in order to celebrate the Beijing Olympics.

Since China is the host country of the 2008 Olympics, would you want to know how Chinese did in the previous Olympic Games?

Ever in the history of the Olympics, Yang Chuan Guang was the first Chinese who won a medal in 1960 in Rome.

Post 1949, Xu Haifeng was the first Chinese champion from modern China. He won a gold medal in 1984 in Los Angeles which was referred as a ‘zero-breakthrough’.

Today, Guo Jingjing is the new generation Chinese Olympic star. The new diving queen won altogether six Olympic medals. Let me introduce these Chinese Olympic champions one by one.

Guo Jingjing 郭晶晶 – 2008 Beijing / 2004 Athens / 2000 Sydney / 1996 Atlanta

• Born 1981
• Women’s Diving
• Gold Medal – 3m springboard (2008)
• Gold Medal – 3m springboard synchro (2008)
• Gold Medal – 3m springboard (2004)
• Gold Medal – 3m springboard synchro (2004)
• Silver Medal – 3m springboard (2000)
• Silver Medal – 3m springboard synchro (2000)

One of the most admired Chinese Olympic champions in Beijing, Guo Jingjing is the new generation ‘Diving Queen’.

She has already broken the record of Fu Mingxia and has successfully bagged six Olympic medals, including four gold and two silver.

More about Guo Jingjing

Zhang Yining 张怡宁 – 2008 Beijing / 2004 Athens

• Born 1981
• Women’s Table Tennis
• Gold Medal – Single (2008)
• Gold Medal – Team (2008) / Wang Nan / Guo Yue
• Gold Medal – Single (2004)
• Gold Medal – Double (2004) / Wang Nan

In the 70’s, China was said to make use of Table Tennis Diplomats to rebuild its relationship with the world. Indeed Chinese table tennis players have been exceptionally outstanding, female players in particular. Zhang Yining won four Olympic gold medals in single, double and team. Her partner Wang Nan is also doing extremely good and has two gold medals. In Beijing 2008, Chinese Olympic champions swept all medals from single and gold medal from team.

Zou Kai 邹凯 – 2008 Beijing

Zou Kai

• Born 1988
• Men’s Gymnast
• Gold Medal – Horizontal Bar (2008)
• Gold Medal – Floor Exercise (2008)
• Gold Medal – Team (2008)

There are many areas that Chinese athletes are doing exceptionally good. While women swept all gold medals from table tennis, men gymnasts contributed a total of seven gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Together with the two from women, Chinese gymnasts contributed a total of nine gold medals.

Among these truly remarkable Chinese Olympic champions, Zou Kai contributed to the team's gold and also two gold medals at the Floor Exercise and the Horizontal Bar. He is the second Chinese Olympian to receive three gold medals at a single Olympic Games after Li Ning who won three gold medals in 1984 at Los Angeles.

Chen Yanqing 陈艳清 – 2008 Beijing / 2004 Athens

Chen Yanqing weightlifting gold

• Born 1979
• Women’s Weightlifting
• Gold Medal – 58kg (2008)
• Gold Medal – 58kg (2004)

China probably produces the most and the best weightlifters in the world. In Beijing 2008, Chen Yanqing successfully retained her title earned from Athens. Apart from the two Olympic gold medals, Chen also sat three weightlifting world records to win the women's 58-kilogram gold medal at the Asian Games in 2006.

Among the strong areas of Chinese Olympic champions, weightlifters generated the most number of gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with both men and women doing equally well. They are namely:

Gold – Men’s 56kg – Long Qingquan
Gold – Men’s 62kg – Zhang Xiangxiang
Gold – Men’s 69kg – Liao Hui
Gold – Men’s 85kg – Lu Yong
Gold – Women’s 48kg – Chen Xiexia
Gold – Women’s 58kg – Chen Yanqing
Gold – Women’s 69kg – Liu Chunhong
Gold – women’s 75kg – Cao Lei

Liu Xiang 劉翔 – 2004 Athens

Chinese Olympic champions - Liu Xiang

• Born 1983
• Men’s Athletics
• Gold Medal – 110m hurdles, Athens 2004
• Gold Medal – 110m hurdles, Doha Asian Games, 2006
• Gold Medal – 110m hurdles, Osaka athletics championships, 2007
• World record of 110m hurdles: 12.88 seconds
• Won his first gold medal of 110m hurdles in 2001 – World Student Games (Beijing, China)

Among all the gold medals won by Chinese Olympic champions, the gold medal from Liu Xiang has the most important historical value. Ever in the history of Olympics, track and field games had been dominated by athletes from the western world. Liu Xiang was the first Chinese winning a gold medal. Unfortunately he was not able to retain his title in the 2008 Beijing Olympics due to foot injury. More about Liu Xiang

Tang Gonghong 唐宮紅 - 2004 Athens

Chinese Olympic champions - Tang Gonghong

• Born 1979
• Women’s Weightlifting
• Gold Medal – 75kg C&J/Total
• World record / Olympics record: 182.5kg / 305.0kg

Tang Gonghong marked the milestone of Chinese champions in the Olympic Games. She won the 100th gold medal for China while breaking two world records. I don’t play weightlifting myself but I love watching. I am certainly a loyal admirer of Tang. More about Tang Gonghong

Fu Mingxia 伏明霞 – 2000 Sydney / 1996 Atlanta / 1992 Barcelona

Fu Mingxia

• Born 1978
• Women’s Diving
• Gold Medal – 3m springboard (2000)
• Gold Medal – 10m platform (1996)
• Gold Medal – 3m springboard (1996)
• Gold Medal – 10m platform (1992)

Fu Mingxia is one of my most admired Chinese Olympic champions. She won a bronze medal at the age of 12 at the Beijing Asian Games in 1990. She’s reputed as ‘Diving Queen’ and had participated in three Olympics between 1992 and 2000.

She is now retired and married to Anthony Leung, the former Financial Secretary of Hong Kong. The couple has a daughter and is now residing in Hong Kong. More about Fu Mingxia

Lee Lai Shan 李麗珊 – 1996 Atlanta

Lee Lai Shan

• Born 1970
• Women’s Sailing
• Gold Medal – Board (Minstral)

I am exceptionally proud of this particular Chinese Olympic champion as we both are from Hong Kong.

Between 1952 and 1995, Hong Kong had never been able to win any medals at the Olympic Games. Lee Lai Shan was the first and the last to win a gold medal for colonial Hong Kong. However the national anthem played at the award ceremony wasn’t China’s, as Lee was representing Hong Kong as a British colony.

Lee was born in Cheung Chau, an outlying island in Hong Kong. She started windsurfing aged 12 and was reputed as the ‘Windsurfing Queen’. More about Lee Lai Shan

Xiong Ni 熊毅 - 2000 Sydney / 1996 Atlanta / 1992 Barcelona /
1988 Seoul

Xiong Ni

• Born 1974
• Men’s Diving
• Gold Medal – 3m springboard (2000)
• Gold Medal – 3m springboard synchronized (2000)
• Gold Medal – 3m springboard (1996)
• Silver Medal – 10m platform (1988)

Xiong was the second diver in history to win medals at four Olympic Games. As a young Chinese diver, he won his first Olympic medal at the age of 14 in Seoul, 1988. His outstanding performance has made the then diving star Greg Louganis extremely difficult in getting his gold medal. Xiong came within the tiny historical gap of 1.14 points of Greg in the 10m platform competition in 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. More about Xiong Ni

Li Ning 李寧 - 1984 Los Angeles

Li Ning

• Born 1963
• Men’s Gymnastics
• Gold Medal – floor exercise (1984)
• Gold Medal – pommel horse (1984)
• Gold Medal – rings (1984)

Every Chinese would remember Li Ning, the “Prince of Gymnastics”. He is most famous for winning six medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, including three gold medals, two silver medals, and a bronze medal. I am sure he is one of the most outstanding Chinese Olympic champions.

Li founded Li-Ning Sports Goods Company in 1990, selling footwear and sporting apparel in his own brand name. His products continue to be more popular in China than those of foreign competitors. Li-Ning has over 2,000 outlets in China. More about Li Ning

Xu Haifeng 許海峯 - 1984 Los Angeles

Xu Haifeng

• Born 1957
• Men’s Shooting
• Gold Medal – 50m pistol (60 shots)

Xu had a “zero-breakthrough” among all Chinese Olympic champions. He won the first Olympic gold medal for China in 1984 in Los Angeles.

He is now the Chief Coach of China’s national shooting team. His trainees Tao Luna and Li Duihong were both gold medalist in Atlanta (1996) and in Sydney (2000).

The gold medal he won is a ‘priceless treasure’ for Chinese and is now kept at the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, right next to Tiananmen Square in Beijing. More about Xu Haifeng

Ji Zheng 紀政 - 1968 Mexico City

Ji Zheng

• Born 1944
• Women’s Athletics
• Bronze Medal – 80m hurdles

Reputed as the ‘Flying Antelope’, Ji is considered Asia's top female track and field athlete of the 20th century. She represented Taiwan in the 1968 Olympic Games at Mexico City and won a bronze medal. She was one of the Chinese pioneers participated the Olympic Games.

In 1970, she broke or tied three world records, accomplishing the feat in the space of just one week. I am sure every Chinese would remember her outstanding achievements.

Yang Chuan Guang 楊傳廣 - 1960 Rome

Yang Chuan Guang

• 1933 - 2007
• Men’s Decathlon
• Silver Medal - 1960

Yang is known as ‘Iron man of Asia’. He won the first Olympic medal for Chinese. He represented Taiwan at the 1960 Olympics at Rome and won a silver medal in decathlon. Yang also won a gold medal in decathlon at the 1954 Asian Games. He passed away in January 2007, at the age of 74.

Ji Zheng and Yang Chuan Guang were not Chinese Olympic champions, however they were highly respected athletes and pioneers in participating the Olympic Games. I have therefore included them on this page.

Chinese Olympic champions between 1984 and 2004

Chinese Olympic champions at 2004 Athens

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