Cheng Fei at Yangtze Forum to Promote Gymnastics in China
Source: China News
Starting her training at four years old and entering the National team at thirteen, Cheng Fei was a nine-time World Champion. Yesterday, she dropped by the “Yangtze Forum” hosted by the Hubei Provincial Library to talk about her experiences and promote gymnastics at a basic level in China. While talking about how the crowd supported her after her devastating mistake during the Floor Finals at the 08 Olympics, she couldn’t stop her tears.
Cheng Fei retired from the National Team in 2012, and last year, she went back to her home school of Wuhan Institute of Gymnastics. Reminiscing about her career, the two most vivid memories are the times she “cried miserably”.
Before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the National Team Captain Cheng Fei felt unprecedented pressure, “It was different from the Olympics at Athens. I was really young then and all guts, doing whatever I was told to do. 08 was different, I needed to lead the team, and I felt that my peak was behind me. There were a lot of pressure.”
Back then, Cheng Fei would lie in bed every night and struggle with her own nerves. “Everyday, I wanted to go to my coach and tell him, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore, you can beat me to death and I still don’t want to do it’. But when I come back to the gym the next day, I would think: what about my coach? What about this team?”
One day, after training, all her teammates have left, and Cheng Fei was by herself, crouched in the corner crying. Her coach came up to her and asked, “what’s going on? Why aren’t you going to the dorm? Training’s over.”
Cheng Fei was crying so hard that she couldn’t speak, and all she could do was shake her head. The next words out of her coach’s mouth had Cheng Fei flabbergasted: ”Let’s find you a boyfriend.”
"I was in a stupor, I was crying and trying to say ‘that’s not even remotely close to the problem I’m having’," Cheng Fei recalled to the laughter of the crowd.
In 2008, Cheng Fei led the Chinese Women’s Gymnastics Team to the first ever gold medal in China’s history, but faltered in the Event Finals at her pet events Floor Exercise and Vault, getting 7th and a bronze respectively. She remembers not wanting to go on after she made the mistake on Floor. “I just wanted to give up then, I tried to pull myself together, and when I finished, my brain was completely blank. It was like everything that I had endured up to this point was in vain.”
What she didn’t expect that in the crowded arena of 20k people, the words that echoed were “Cheng Fei you are the best” and “We love you”.
"I remember crying really hard when I heard them, and even now, when I think about it, it moves me greatly. It was my most difficult time, and I think as an athlete, to receive such support, it makes everything worth it whether you succeed or fail."