Liu Changchun was the first Chinese to participate in the Olympic Games, in 1932, inspiring many of his countrymen to follow in his footsteps. He was a patriotic and passionate sprinter.
Liu Changchun was born in Dalian in northeast China in the early twentieth century. His talent in running emerged when he was very young. Back in primary school, Liu Changchun set a record of 11.8 seconds in the 100-meter dash, earning him a reputation in his hometown.
In 1931, the Japanese invaded northeastern China and instituted a puppet state called Manchukuo. Against his will, the Japanese announced to their plan to send Liu Changchun to the 10th Olympic Games in Los Angeles as a representative of Manchukuo. Liu Changchun published a statement refusing to represent the puppet state at the Olympics. Later, the patriotic General Zhang Xueliang sponsored Liu to attend the games, as the sole representative of war-torn China.
Liu Changchun arrived only three days before the opening ceremony, after a nearly month-long sail from Shanghai to Los Angeles. Due to his poor physical state caused by the long trip, he was eliminated in the preliminary rounds of the 100-meter and 200-meter dash.
Although Liu Changchun failed in the Los Angeles Olympics, his participation inspired other Chinese athletes. In 1936, many more Chinese athletes took part in the Berlin Olympics, including Liu Changchun. But due to an injury during training, he failed once again.
In the 1930s and 1940s, there was little support for athletes from the government. Due to poor training conditions, Liu Changchun was frequently injured during training and he gradually retired from the track.
After the founding of New China in 1949, Liu Changchun began teaching at Dalian University of Technology. He paid much attention to the selection and training of the young athletes, and his efforts paid off. Throughout his 40-year teaching career, Liu Changchun was also dedicated to researching sports theories.
Liu's pioneering way to the Olympics may be of symbolic value to the Chinese, past and present.