Li Xiangshuang [photo source : sohu.com]
Li Xiaoshuang was champion of the men's floor exercises at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and in the 1996 Atlanta games he brought China the first individual all-round gymnastics Olympic title. Today we'll introduce you to the talented gymnast. Here is our reporter He Fei.
Li Xiaoshuang was born in Xiantao in central China's Hubei province in 1973. At the age of six, his talent in gymnastics was discovered by a coach while he played hide-and-seek with his brother Dashuang outside a local movie theater. The twin brothers entered a local sports school to learn their craft and Li Xiaoshuang entered the national team at the tender age of 12.
"I had a dream of entering the national team when I was small. The goal is so high for a twelve-year-old boy. What I wanted most at that time was to visit Tian'anmen Square and take a photo there that I could show off to my little friends."
Li Xiaoshuang became the youngest champion at the 1990 Asian Games when he was 17. From then on his ambitions only increased.
"After I got the gold medal at the Asian Games, I wanted to win the Olympic Games in 1992."
He began to learn bunching up for three consecutive backward somersaults. The craft, called the nuclear weapon in the competition, later became his trump card in the Olympic Games. In the 1992 Olympic Games, Li Xiaoshuang marched into the final round with ease. It took some time for him and his coach to decide whether he should perform this difficult movement.
"We didn't know whether to use the speciality. If I made it, the world would hail for us. But if I failed, I might suffer severe injury."
Due to its difficulty the craft has never been shown in the Olympics. Li Xiaoshuang himself got concussion when he once fell down during training. If he abandoned it, he could take the silver medal.
"I simply wanted to display my talent and let people know what I'd learnt in the past years. I thought it would be a credit to me and my coach. My team decided to take full responsibility if I failed. At that moment I felt great pressure but I told myself the competition today was a performance. All I have to do was to show my audiences the most beautiful movements."
His performance was perfect and won him a gold medal. However, he was still not satisfied.
"It was not so good. I made a small mistake in the competition."
As 1996 approached, Li Xiaoshuang set an even higher goal to win the all-around championship, and most importantly, to win gold in team gymnastics. The Chinese gymnastic team had missed out on the gold medal for years. In 1996 for the first time in over a decade, the Chinese team had the potential to win the gold. However, Li Xiaoshuang, the most competitive athlete in the team, made an unexpected mistake during the match. His mistake left huge pressure on his teammates and they eventually got a silver medal. Days after the loss, he was going to take part in the men's all-around competition.
"I felt sorry for my mistake. But I had to get rid of the pressure and my bad mood to finish the competition. I wanted to conquer the judges and audiences with my beautiful performance."
Finally he made it, becoming the first Chinese gymnast to gain the title. In 1997, he retired from the national team and began a new career. However, he continued to visit the national training centre.
"Gymnastics used to be my career. I wanted to share my experience with others in hope they can learn from it."
Eleven years have passed. Now Li Xiaoshuang devotes his energy to his business. He established a company of sports goods and he also gets involved in film and music industry. The talented gymnast now has a fresh understanding about the Olympic Games from the audiences perspective.
"I'm nervous and excited to watch the games. And I feel proud of the athletes. I'm experiencing the feelings my audiences once had for me."