With 364 days to go until the first Summer Olympics in Asia since 2008 in Beijing, over a hundred of Chinese athletes are gearing up for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo after ensuring their respective qualification berths so far. The list is still growing as the qualifications for a number of events and disciplines are not yet over. The coming days will see the number of Olympic qualifiers from China likely increase.
China has met expectations in its six traditionally strong sports, including weightlifting, diving, table tennis, badminton, gymnastics, and shooting. The Chinese team is aiming to take the podium in track and field, swimming, cycling, and fencing events.
Cycling and equestrianism mark major qualifier breakthroughs for China. Their equestrian team, led by Alex Hua Tian, earned qualification in May for the first time in history. As for cycling, the Chinese cyclists have booked their place in the men’s road event for the first time since the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
At present, 141 Chinese athletes have qualified in 95 events in nine sports. China has already reached the maximum number of athletes it can send in diving, archery, synchronized swimming, and equestrianism. Over the next 12 months, Chinese athletes will continue to try and earn a place in 285 events in the 33 sports to be contested in Tokyo.
“Our priority from 2019 to the first half of 2020 is to win as many qualification quotas as possible. We also need to focus on our weaknesses and pick up the pace,” Vice President of the Chinese Olympic Committee Liu Guoyong told Xinhua News Agency. “Chinese athletes show less physicality, especially in events like athletics, swimming, and the like. Each team should build on their fitness for professional competition. We should also view every event as a training opportunity.”
Qualifications for Tokyo 2020 can only be secured through event qualifiers, added Liu. The challenge for the Chinese team is leveraging the number of events as rules of global sports are continuously changing.
“We need to take part in more events to hone our skills,” said Liu. “Both the physical and mental health of athletes are equally important. We should prevent any kinds of injuries and illnesses ahead of Tokyo.”
While explaining the goal of Team China at the 2020 Tokyo Games, Liu hopes to hit a record high number of qualifying athletes and reach top three on the medal tally.
“Zero tolerance for doping, which is our bottom line. Golds must be clean. We are also more than willing to promote exchanges between Chinese youth and their counterparts from all over the world. Wonderful performances can help improve China’s image and national strength,” said Liu. “We will live up to the expectations of our people.”
In the last Summer Olympics in Rio in 2016, the Chinese contingent was comprised of 416 athletes who competed in 26 different sports. They won 26 gold medals, 18 silvers and 26 bronze medals to finish an overall 3rd in the medal’s tally behind the USA and Great Britain with an overall Games haul of 70 medals. However, the largest-ever Chinese contingent at a Summer Olympics was recorded when 639 athletes were fielded by the host nation at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Chinese athletes bagged a record 100 medals, including 48 golds, 22 silver and 30 bronzes to finish first in the overall medal standings for the first time in Olympic history. Team China is expected to face some tough competition from the host nation, Japan, come next year.