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China Leaps for Glory with Games Bid

China's Olympic dream started long before August 28, 2000, when Beijing was officially selected with four other cities as a candidate to host the 2008 Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board.

Like other significant historical events running through China's modern history, Chinese Olympic history is not only a history of China's athletic ability, but a history of development of national strength. It is full of twists and turns, pain and finally joy.

In 1922, Chinese diplomat Wang Zhengting became the first Chinese person elected to the IOC. Yet it was not until 1932 when the 10th Olympic Games was held in Los Angeles that China was invited for the first time to send a delegation to compete.

Runner Liu Changchun's Olympic trip was sponsored by patriotic general Chang Hsueh-liang in 1932.

Although eliminated in the preliminary heats in the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints, clocking 11.1 and 22.1 respectively, Liu, representing the first group of Chinese to take part in the Olympics, led the way for China's participation in the global sports event.

In 1935, one year before the 11th Olympics, the then Chinese Government earmarked a large sum of money for preparations, choosing the best athletes and opening a number of training classes. A delegation was organized, consisting of 69 competitors for athletics, swimming, basketball, football, weightlifting, boxing and cycling.

But not one single medal was collected by Chinese athletes.

"We were a far cry from many countries in our results and athletic ability," wrote the Chinese delegation in its report. "We were ridiculed as having brought back nothing but a 'duck's egg'."

The early setbacks, however, didn't dampen Chinese enthusiasm for the world's largest sporting event.

With the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Olympics received even greater attention in China. The Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) sent a delegation to take part in the 15th Olympic Games held in Helsinki in 1952.

Although arriving late for formal competitions, the Chinese athletes hoisted the five-starred red national flag for the first time at an Olympic Village.

With the restoration of the Chinese Olympic Committee's lawful seat at the IOC and of the Chinese sports delegation's right to participate in the Olympics, Chinese athletes were sent to Los Angeles in 1984 for the 23rd Olympic Games. It was China's first full participation in a summer Games.

Chinese shooter Xu Haifeng won China's first ever Olympic gold medal in the men's free pistol event, with his prize awarded by IOC President J.A. Samaranch. As the first Olympic gold ever collected by a Chinese person in Olympic history, it has been referred to as "a break through zero" - an event that brought great joy to the whole Chinese nation.

It was followed by more gold medals won by Chinese athletes in the following Olympic Games, which stands as a testimony to Chinese people's athletic ability.

(China Daily 04/23/2001)

Olympiad 2008 Beijing
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