The athletes who made us proud at the Tokyo Olympics
Minhang residents are enjoying the afterglow of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where Chinese athletes won 88 medals, including 38 gold. The remarkable performance was aided by outstanding athletes from Minhang. We watched their performances and cheered them on from afar.
Minhang athletes include rower Chen Yunxia, ââartistic gymnast Zhang Jin, hurdler Xie Wenjun, hockey player Cui Qiuxia, cyclist Xu Chao and swimmer Qin Haiyang.
We meet some of them.
Sculler Chen Yunxia
Chinese rowers Chen Yunxia, ââZhang Ling, Lu Yang and Cui Xiaotong won the women’s quadruple pairs championship, setting a new world record of 6 minutes, 5.13 seconds. It was the second time Team China had won the event, following a success at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Chen, who studied and trained in Minhang, held the demanding position of first on the line, which is essential for balancing rowing.
âThe medal made it all worthwhile,â Chen said of his long years of training. “I’m not alone in this case, there are a lot of people I’m grateful for.”
It was Chen’s first time competing in the Olympics. She said the team focused on their performance, without winning a medal.
Nervous? Yes, to an extent, she admitted.
Born in 1995 in Tongliao, a small town in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of northern China, Chen demonstrated talent in sports as a young child. At the age of 12, she was inducted into the sports school to train for the long jump.
Her performances caught the attention of the athletics team at Qibao High School in Minhang in 2009. She was offered free registration and a scholarship.
âShe was in excellent physical condition when we watched her,â said Jin Deqiang, the retired long jump trainer who discovered Chen. “She was five feet tall and had a solid track and field background. We were delighted to have her.”
The move to Shanghai was a big change for a girl from a small town in Inner Mongolia. She initially struggled to adapt to the climate, food and the hectic pace of the city.
On frequent calls with his mother, Chen was encouraged to stick to it.
Two years after arriving in Minhang, Shanghai rowing coach Jiang Shuzhi went to Qibao High School to look for potential athletes. Chen’s physical coordination and flexibility caught his attention.
With the blessing of his track coach, Chen officially switched to rowing.
âWe started from the ground up,â Jiang said. âRowing requires the use of different muscles and, more importantly, we had to help her overcome her fear of water,â Jiang said, noting that this woman raised in the grasslands could not even swim. .
âPeople born and raised in the prairies are generally difficult,â Chen said.
Reflecting on his years of rowing training, Chen said the hardest parts are the plateaus when it is difficult to break through and level up. Sometimes she even thought about giving up, to be encouraged again by all the people who supported her and supported her.
âI had to constantly challenge myself because I knew that if I ever let myself go, all hope was lost,â Chen said.
After the Olympics, Chen said she takes a summer break to rest and recharge. Then it’s back to training.
Artistic gymnast Zhang Jin
Pujiang local Zhang Jin competed and placed 7th on the women’s artistic gymnastics team, along with teammates Tang Qianjing, Lu Yufei and Ou Yushan.
His parents and neighbors got together and proudly watched the team’s performance live on TV.
âGetting to the Olympics is not easy, especially with the pandemic,â said Father Zhang Guoping. “We are really happy that our daughter’s Olympic dream has come true. We are really proud of her.”
The gymnast, born in 2000, was inducted into the national team at the age of 13. Since then, she has been training in Beijing.
For the past two years, Zhang has not been able to come home to visit his parents. They stay in close contact online.
âLast year, she was competing overseas when the coronavirus was at its peak, and we were really worried about her,â Zhang’s mother said. “When she returned to China and the pandemic here was generally under control, we felt great relief.”
Previously, Zhang won the women’s all-around championship at the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Germany in 2018 and was a finalist in the women’s all-around at the Chinese national championship in May.
Hurdler Xie Wenjun
Xie Wenjun was the 110-meter hurdles champion at the Asian Games, Asian Track and Field Championships and the IAAF Diamond League. He was hailed as the most powerful Chinese hurdler after Liu Xiang, who broke the Olympic record in 2004.
In Tokyo, Xie, 31, was competing in the Olympics for the third time, but failed to make it past the semi-final this year. Suffering from a damaged tendon, he did not arrive in Tokyo in perfect condition.
He said he tried to do his best in Tokyo despite the injury.
âI still have dreams,â he said.
Separately, here’s a fun little fact. Shanghai’s first Olympic torchbearer was also from Minhang. Maqiao town resident Xu Weijie, who was in his final year of high school in Shanghai when he was selected to be one of four Chinese carriers at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.