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Wushu brilliance: China dominates first day of traditional martial sport

Wushu 29 July 2023

“Between nervousness and excitement.” That is how China’s Cao Maoyuan felt entering the Chengbei Gymnasium on Saturday to present his gold-winning performance at the first medal event of the Chengdu FISU World University Games.

A day after the lighting of the torch at the opening ceremony, Maoyuan not only claimed the top spot in men’s Nanquan but also led the way for Team China ultimately securing four wushu gold medals.

“I’ll give myself 9 points on a scale of 10,” the local student at Chengdu Sport University said about his own performance. He ultimately received a 9.7764c4b0cbe4b079d96c0b833dSong Cuifang, China grade by the nine judges, who are taking into consideration quality of movement, degree of difficulty and overall performance.

Song Cuifang, China

Full focus is required by wushu athletes as they are setting an imaginary enemy in their mind and showing the connotation of offence and defence with different movements and punches. “My coach told me I have to keep calm. I think the guidance on adjusting our mood before the performance is very important for the stunning performance I’ve just given,” Maoyuan said.

Keeping calm, however, was not an easy task this Saturday morning. Nearly every seat was taken in Chengbei Gymnasium as wushu is greatly popular in the country. Deeply intertwined with Chinese culture, it was chosen as one of the three optional sports at these Games.

“The spectators are very enthusiastic and that made me excited too,” is how the 25-year-old champion described his experience in the stadium. “During the performance, I tried not to be carried away by excitement, focusing on what was required of me during my daily training.”

Also taking home gold for the Chinese team were Song Cuifang of Henan Polytechnic University in the women’s Nandao event (9.666), Xiaoli Chen of Zhejian University in women’s Taijiquan (9.753) and Zhedian Jin of Tianjin University of Technology in men’s Changquan (9.723).

Felicia Liu, Austria

The remaining two gold medals on the first day of wushu, in the women’s Changquan and men’s Taijijian events, were claimed by Indonesia’s Nandhira Mauriskha (9.6) and Hong Kong’s Tak yan samuei Hui (9.726).

While wushu is primarily dominated by Asian countries, some European and American athletes found their way into the competition as well.

Felicia ziyi Liu, an Austrian student at Peking University in China, got into the sport through a long family history and her mother, herself a coach and judge.

“I’ve been doing wushu since I was five years old, but of course at the beginning I was not training as professional as the Asians,” said Lui, who placed 12th out of 15 athletes in women’s Taijiquan.

“I would have never dared dreaming to compete here. The people I’m competing against – they are my idols. While I’m satisfied with my result, I’m really just so grateful for even being here.”

Written by Annika Saunus, FISU Young Reporter