Gold Gar­nered by For­eign Swim­mer in Yangtze River Cross­ing Fes­ti­val

Special Focus - - EVENT - By Xu Kuang

“Cross­ing the great Yangtze River, the eter­nal sky spreads end­lessly. ” Swim­ming across the Yangtze River in Wuhan has his­tor­i­cally been a pop­u­lar ac­tiv­ity. In the past 61 years, tre­men­dous changes have been wit­nessed in Wuhan City and Wuhan In­ter­na­tional Yangtze River Cross­ing Fes­ti­val has be­come one of the city’s in­flu­en­tial cul­tural events.

China’s Chair­man Mao Ze­dong had his first swim in the Yangtze River in Wuhan in 1956, after which was born the fa­mous poem Swim­ming. In the 10 years fol­low­ing his first ex­pe­ri­ence, he swam in the Yangtze River more than 10 times. It was in 1956 that the first Yangtze River cross­ing com­pe­ti­tion was held. Since then, it has be­come a well­known fes­ti­val of Wuhan City.

There­fore, with a halt in the tra­di­tion in 2016 due to flood­ing, Wuhan In­ter­na­tional Yangtze River Cross­ing Fes­ti­val was back on July 16th,2017 and it was a great show­case of the charms of the city and the river.

This year the swim­mers were di­vided into two groups: the timed com­pe­ti­tion joined by pro­fes­sional swim­mers, and the am­a­teurs’ ses­sion. The com­pe­ti­tion had at­tracted more than 10 for­eign pro­fes­sional swim­mers from

Ger­many, the U.S., Swe­den, and other coun­tries.

At last, the men’s gold was won by Swedish swim­mer, Chris­tian Axel Eri­c­long, who was merely 4 sec­onds faster than the gold win­ner of last year, Simon Wana. The top three fe­male winners were all from Wuhan.

Li Sheng, now a re­portage writer, was once a stu­dent par­tic­i­pant in 1966 to cross the river to­gether with Chair­man Mao Ze­dong.

He said that the tra­di­tion of cross­ing the Yangtze River in Wuhan had been known in­ter­na­tion­ally very early in 1961 when Bri­tish Mar­shal Mont­gomery vis­ited China and was in­vited to watch Chair­man Mao Ze­dong swim­ming across the Yangtze River. He was also given the poem Swim­ming au­to­graphed by Chair­man Mao as a gift be­fore he went back to Bri­tain.

“Swim­ming across the Yangtze River used to be just a fun sport for the peo­ple but now it has be­come an annual fes­ti­val. It is Wuhan’s city card, ” said Li Sheng. Now, Wuhan is an in­ter­na­tional cos­mopoli­tan city. Into the new era, Wuhan’s city plan­ning was cen­tered around the Yangtze River, which gives the fes­ti­val a new mean­ing, that is, for build­ing a bet­ter Wuhan, we shall unite as one and act in unity.

Wuhan In­ter­na­tional Yangtze River Cross­ing Fes­ti­val bears an im­por­tant mis­sion for the fu­ture of this city. Eco­nom­i­cally, Wuhan should de­velop in an in­no­va­tive man­ner, for ex­am­ple, ini­ti­at­ing a new city of the Yangtze River; Cul­tur­ally, this mega city will demon­strate its peo­ple’s strong will against hard­ship and also their pas­sion for life.

Hu Li­um­ing, a lo­cal writer, has sug­gested that the fes­ti­val should wel­come more in­ter­na­tional par­tic­i­pants just as how marathons and bi­cy­cle races do. All forms and types of me­dia should be in­volved to in­tro­duce the event to home and abroad bilin­gually in Chi­nese and English. What’s more, for­eign­ers work­ing in in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions should be in­vited to join the event so as to let more peo­ple know of Wuhan in­ter­na­tion­ally.

She hopes that Wuhan In­ter­na­tional Yangtze River Cross­ing Fes­ti­val can truly be­come an in­ter­na­tional car­ni­val.

(Trans­la­tion:Zhang Lei)

● Left: the Brone Medal­ist; Mid­dle: the Gold Medal­ist; Right: the Sil­ver Medal­ist男子抢渡赛前三名(左起:季军冠军亚军)

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