China Wins Her First Olympic Gold Medal
Shooter Xu Haifeng won the first gold medal in China's Olympic history.
The Beijing Olympics attracted over 10,000 athletes from 204 countries and regions, who went on to break 38 world records and 85 Olympic records. According to IOC president Jacques Rogge, the Olympic Games has made China a better place, and a place the world understands better. It has been a journey of over 70 years, with poignant milestones.
On July 29, 1984, at precisely 12:26, the air of the Los Angeles Olympic Shooting Range was filled with the national anthem of the People's Republic of China. Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, bestowed on Chinese shooter Xu Haifeng the Olympic gold medal for the men's 50m free pistol. Xu, the champion with a record of 60 shots in 566-point rings, became the first gold medalist of the Los Angeles Olympics and the first in China's Olympic history.
That was a long way from China's 1932 performance, when L.A. also hosted the 10th Olympic Games but China sent only one athlete. Fifty-two years later, the Chinese delegation had a line up of 225 athletes competing in 16 sports. Unrepresented in football, hockey, boxing, equestrian and the modern pentathlon, China nevertheless ranked fourth in gold medal standing and brought home 15 gold medals, eight silver and nine bronze.
After fulfilling the dream of successful competition in the Games, China started to yearn for the role of host. Beijing's first bid, for the 2000 Olympic Games, lost to Sydney by a two-ticket margin. China again presented its application to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), this time for the 2008 Olympics, and on July 13, 2001, Samaranch declared in Moscow that Beijing had triumphed over all other contenders to pick up the torch.