From zero to a wresting hero
CHONGQING (CQNEWS) -- Li Yiming grabbed the silver medal in the men's Greco-Roman wrestling 97kg final competition in the 19th Asian Games (Hangzhou). It is Chongqing's first Asian Games medal in wrestling.
More than 1,300 kilometers away from Hangzhou, it is Li Yiming's alma mater – Chongqing Yunyang Hongshi Junior High School. The school has coached 102 national wrestlers and 65 P.E. college students in the past eight years. Li Yiming is one of the national wrestlers.
48 kilometers away from the urban area of Yunyang County, Hongshi Junior High School is located in Zhongping Village, Hongshi Town, facing the Yangtze River and backed by mountains. The mountainous terrain enables some children to possess traits required for a wrestler – long upper limbs and excellent explosive power. Therefore, the school set up a wrestling team.
Zhong Xinyue (right) lifted a 15kg kettlebell and slammed it hard against an old tire repeatedly... Before a set of 10 reps was over, her face was drenched with sweat. Zhong Xinyue was discovered by coach Li Xuekui and became a member of the school wrestling team when she studied in Grade 6 at school.
Over the years of wrestling, the skin on her hands is often rubbed raw and gets blisters, but Zhong Xinxue never complains. She used warm water to soften the blisters, pierced them with a stitch, and then continued practicing. “I hope to get into a good university to ease the economic burden of my mum and dad.” This is what keeps her training going. Wrestling gives her chances to leave the rural area and win the championship in the Chongqing International Wrestling Championships.
Rao Peng (right) is also a member of the wrestling team. His father is disabled and his grandfather is old. He was rebellious and often drove his teachers and parents crazy when he was young. Li Xuekui found he was a potential wrestler, but Rao’s family refused to let him join the wrestling team, believing that wrestling was simply about fighting and could not bring Rao Peng a promising future. Li Xuekui did not give up. After repeated persuasion, Rao Peng’s family finally approved of letting him join the school team. The two years of training made Rao Peng and his family realize that wrestling requires not only tactics and strategy but also wisdom and perseverance.
The training has made him self-disciplined and enabled him to keep up with his studies, said Rao Peng (first from the left). He is now studying in Senior Grade 3. He aims to get into Chengdu Sports University and hopes to make breakthroughs constantly like Li Yiming.
Li Xuekui watched the wrestling event on October 5. He was excited for quite a long time after seeing Li Yiming (right) win the silver medal. It is not only the first Asian Games medal for Hongshi Junior High School but also the first Asian Games medal for Chongqing in wrestling. As the first coach of Li Yiming, Li Xuekui was proud of him. He remembered that when Li Ying had a bruised knee in the training, he refused to take leave.
When the school wrestling team was established in 2015, there was a lack of training venues, equipment, and coaches. The only meeting room in the school was changed into a training hall and equipped with old wrestling mats and barbells gained from other schools. The retired wrestlers were employed as coaches for the school team. Today, the school has built a professional wrestling training venue and increased the number of coaches from one to three. The rusty squat racks and old tires have witnessed the growth of the wrestling team.
Students, parents, and even some teachers initially considered wrestling as fighting. Now, they see the changes that wrestling has brought. One year after the establishment of the wrestling team, the team members won 4 gold medals, 2 silver medals, and 6 bronze medals in the international wrestling competition of the fifth Chongqing Sports Games. In the past 8 years, 65 students have been admitted to various sports colleges and universities in China, and 26 first-level athletes and 76 second-level athletes have been produced.
This school has been designated as a key wrestler training base by the Chongqing Administration of Sport. It has also become the only rural junior high school featuring a wrestling program in Chongqing. The number of the school wrestling team increased from 16 to 105. Those young wrestling athletes are working hard to leave the rural areas and embrace a marvelous future with infinite possibilities. (Translated by Yuki, Fathom Language Limited)