Young stars shine bright
BY wangxingwei from 21st Century
Published 2021-09-01

A group of young Chinese stars shone bright at the Tokyo Games, fueling the country with great confidence for the future of Chinese sports.

According to the Chinese Olympic Committee, 293 of its athletes - nearly 68 percent of the team - made their Olympic debuts in Tokyo.

Many of the youngsters showed great athletic skills beyond their years and made breakthrough performances.

Led by women's 200m butterfly champion Zhang Yufei, young swimmers Tang Muhan, Yang Junxuan and Li Bingjie won the women's 4x200m freestyle relay in a world-record time of 7 minutes, 40.33 seconds.

China, Australia and the United States are the only nations to win the event at the Games since its Olympic debut in 1996.

“The unexpected win has set our hopes high for the future, as well as increasing our confidence,” said 19-year-old Li.

The great performances in some of China’s strong sports have also told fans that the country's dominance is safe.

For example, in table tennis, 20-year-old Sun Yingsha's 4-0 victory over Japan's Mima Ito in the women's singles semifinals was a highlight.

Overcoming a brief scare in the second game by winning eight points in a row, Sun showed that the nation's table tennis talent cultivation program remains in good health – accounting for 32 out of the 37 Olympic gold medals since the sport's Games debut in 1988.

Such impressive performances in Tokyo have helped partly fill the void left by the retirement of a number of international sporting stars, such as ex-NBA All-Star Yao Ming, Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang and tennis Grand Slam winner Li Na.

Staying at the top, however, presents a challenge for the younger athletes as other nations try to respond to China's resurgence.

“The Olympics are always the breeding ground for future stars, but our younger generation of athletes has yet to be fully tested internationally,” said Tan Jianxiang, a sports sociology researcher at South China Normal University.

“The real challenge comes right after their breakout debut performances at the Olympics.”

(Translator & Editor: Su Ziyang(Intern) AND Luo Sitian)
Debuts  首秀
Breakthrough  突破
Relay  接力
Dominance  优势
Semifinals  半决赛
Highlight  高光时刻
Overcoming  克服
Cultivation  培养
Accounting for  占比
Void  空白
Resurgence  复兴
Breeding  培养