by Xinhua writers Zhou Yan, Feng Changyong and Yu
BEIJING/CHENGDU, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Gymnast Zou Kai
snatched a gold medal in men's horizontal bar on Tuesday to become the first,
and most likely the only triple-crowned Chinese Olympian at the Beijing Games,
and the glory came exactly 100 days after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake devastated
his home province of Sichuan.
"I was here to fight for the gold today," said Zou,
20, after winning the final on Tuesday afternoon. "I was very nervous, but I had
already won two gold medals at these Games, so my psychological state was better
than my competitors."
Townees cheer for Chinese gymnast Zou Kai in Luzhou, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Aug. 19, 2008. Zou Kai, native in Luzhou, won the gold medal with a score of 16.200 in the men's horizontal bar final of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Tuesday, which is also the third gold he won in this Olympics. (Xinhua/Cao Weibing)
Zou won a team gold on Aug. 12 and an individual gold
in men's floor exercise on Sunday.
Since he won his first gold last week, Zou has hoped
to share the honor with the folks in Sichuan. "It was their solidarity and
unyielding spirit in the face of crisis that inspired me to perform well in the
competition," Zou wrote in his blog on China's leading portal website
Tuesday is the 100th day since the May 12 quake that
claimed nearly 70,000 lives, left 17,923 others missing and destroyed the homes
of more than 10 million people. It is a date to mourn the deceased, burn them
"paper money" or offer sacrifices as the Chinese tradition goes.
China's Zou Kai celebrates at the awarding ceremony of men's floor apparatus final of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China, Aug. 17, 2008. Zou Kai claimed the title of the event with a score of 16.050. (Xinhua/Ren Long)
Zou's home city of Luzhou was not in the quake
epicenter, but he was extremely worried when the strong tremor cut off
communication and made it impossible for him to get through to his family on the
Later, his parents managed to get in touch with him,
telling him they were fine, and asking him to concentrate on his training for
"Everyone in the team gave me a lot of care after the
quake," said Zou. "Their love and concern have been extremely touching and
encouraging to me."
Fighting for glory at the world's biggest sports
rally has been a tradition for athletes from Sichuan, who are reputed for their
readiness to endure hardships and ability to overcome all difficulties.
Sichuan athletes have won gold medals for China at
almost all the previous summer Olympics the country took part in.
Tennis player Zheng Jie of China attends a news conference in Beijing, China, Aug. 12, 2008. Zheng Jie beat Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain 2-1 at the second round of women's singles during the Beijing Olympic tennis event Tuesday. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)
Despite widespread grief and the demanding job of
reconstruction, the southwestern province, one of the most populous in China,
sent a record number of 34 athletes to compete at the Beijing Games. All the
athletes vowed that they would fight to honor their home province, and reward
the kind assistance from other parts of the country with "best possible
"I'll do my best on behalf of my folks, so that the
whole world will remember the people from Sichuan as unyielding fighters," said
tennis player Zheng Jie prior to the Olympics.
Faced with overwhelming opponents like the Williams
sisters of the United States and the Russian duo Kuznetsova Svetlana and Safina
Dinara, Zheng and her teammate Yan Zi, also a Sichuan native, fought valiantly
to take a bronze in women's tennis doubles on Sunday.
While the Sichuan athletes were trying their best to
deliver on the home field, their provincial folks, as part of the nearly 1
billion Chinese viewers glued to their TVs for the Games, were watching them
with zeal and anticipation.
"Quiet please, Zou Kai will be competing soon," an
old man interrupted the loud women sitting next to him at a teahouse in downtown
Chengdu, the provincial capital, on Tuesday. The place instantly became silent
until everyone roared again at Zou's perfect performance.
"The Olympic competitions are just like the
post-quake rebuilding," said a Chengdu taxi driver, who rested his car to watch
Zou play on TV in a teahouse. "There's no difficulty that we cannot get over
with, as long as we try with all our hearts."
But it will certainly take some time, as aftershocks
are still felt from time to time even in Chengdu, some 200 kilometers from the
epicenter of Wenchuan.
On Aug. 12, the Sichuan provincial government
announced the full resettlement of the over 10 million displaced people, who had
all moved into temporary houses provided by the government or built by
themselves with government subsidies.
Vice Provincial Governor Huang Yanrong said on
Tuesday that the government would try its best to provide safe, permanent
housing for all quake-affected people by the end of 2010.
And many people in the areas worst hit by the
earthquake missed Zou's Olympic victory on Tuesday, as they concentrated their
attention on the mourning of their lost families or friends.
Beichuan, a county that perished in the quake with
more than 15,000 dead and several thousand missing, and has since been closed
for epidemic prevention, was reopened to some 20,000 mourners on Tuesday.
"We decided to reopen the county for just one day,
because we understand how these people feel," said Beichuan deputy mayor Qu
Yong'an. "They have to mourn their dead family members on this particular
A downpour and subsequent mudflows in the day failed
to disturb the grief-laden survivors of Beichuan, who tried hard to find the
final resting places of their beloved ones, in the rubble of toppled homes and
"Didn't you tell me you wanted a little brother or
sister? Mom and dad promise to get you one -- someone as good and pretty as you
were," a father choked in the ruins of Beichuan Middle School as he lit
firecrackers and offered snacks to mourn his deceased daughter.
A boy stood nearby holding a group photo of his
classmates, many of whom died in the quake. "Next year I'll take the college
entrance exam," he said. "I'll do my best and try to enter a top university. And
I promise I'll come back to share with you everything about my new life."
Exactly three months ago, on May 19, the whole nation
had stood in silent tribute to mourn the quake dead, from top leaders in the
central government compound of Zhongnanhai to ordinary people on the street.