5 Chinese Athletes to Watch at the Paris 2024 Olympics

From skateboarding to breaking and surfing, these competitors are sure to make an impact this summer

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6:07 PM HKT, Fri July 5, 2024 3 mins read

Over the last few decades, China and its Olympic athletes have generated more and more attention globally. The country currently holds a total of 637 medals from the games, a number that’s bound to increase at Paris 2024. Here’s a look at some of the faces that could bring home the glory, with a special focus on the urban sports debuting this summer.

Liu Qingyi: Breaking

Liu Qingyi 671

Photo by Little Shao, via Red Bull Content Pool.

Liu Qingyi, aka B-Girl 671, took silver at the 2022 WDSF World Breaking Championships, so eyes are on her for a possible win for China in Paris. The 18-year-old Henan native will lead the country’s team of 8 breakdancers — 4 men and 4 women — to compete in the sports’ Olympic debut in Paris this year.

671 qualified by winning the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games women’s breaking event. As the first Chinese dancer to win Outbreak, the world’s top breaking competition, Qingyi has had her eye on the Olympics for a while. According to breakdancing writer Jason Pu, “671 is known best for her aggressive stage persona, almost to the point of playing the heel, as well as high-difficulty combinations that she executes with consistency.” As she told Red Bull, her unique style is crucial to her identity: “When I compete, I want people to know my style and who I am as B-Girl 671.”

If her previous performances have anything to say about it, she might be looking to stand on the podium in Paris.

Follow 671 on Instagram @bgirl671liuqingyi.

Zeng Wenhui: Skateboarding

Zeng Wenhui

Image via News Guangdong.

Not only has China solidified its status as a skateboarding paradise in recent years, the sport has also been on the rise among young people in the country. It’s no surprise then that China’s skaters are attracting attention in the run-up to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

This year, Zeng Wenhui will be back in Olympic park for the street style competition. Zeng started her athletic journey early, coming to skateboarding from martial arts in 2012. She then made China’s national skateboarding team in 2017. The two-time national champion came in 6th at Tokyo, and is bound for great things this year.

She’ll be joined by Chinese skateboarding prodigy Cui Chenxi. The 14-year-old skater became China’s youngest Asian Games medalist when she won gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games’ street event. Also on the squad are Zhu Yuanling and 11-year-old Zheng Haohao, the youngest member of the team, who has only been riding for 4 years.

Follow Wenhui on Instagram @zengwenhui_zoe

Yang Siqi: Surfing

Yang Siqi

Image via Surfer Today.

Yang Siqi, the first Chinese surfing Olympian in history, will be competing in the women’s shortboard event at the 2024 Paris games. Interestingly, this and all other surfing events will actually be held in Tahiti.

At just 14, Yang’s rise has been a rapid one. She only started surfing in 2018, and just 6 years later, she qualified for an Olympic spot thanks to her performance at this year’s ISA World Surfing Games in Puerto Rico.

While an Olympic medal might not yet be in the cards for Yang, she’s still bound to make waves this summer, and forge a path ahead in the sport for Chinese athletes in the future with her bright and promising career.

Quoted in an article on the official Olympics website, Chinese surfing head coach Wang Xiaofei noted, “Our athletes are very young, around 13-14 years old. We still have six years to go until LA28, I believe that our athletes could improve a lot in terms of technique. Our goal for LA 2028 will be ranking into the top 8 of the Olympic Games.”

Follow Yang Siqi on Instagram @siqi_yang24.

Luo Zhilu: Sport Climbing

Luo Zhilu

Image via International Federation of Sport Climbing.

The global surge in the popularity of sport climbing in recent years hasn’t passed by China. While climbing has become a hobby for many in the country, the 6 Chinese climbers — 3 women and 3 men — participating in the Olympics take things to a whole other level. They’ll compete in all four of the sport’s events in Paris: men’s speed, women’s speed, men’s combined boulder & lead, and women’s combined boulder & lead.

Luo Zhilu won China’s National Climbing Championships in 2019 when she was just 13. Since then, she’s gone on to collect medals in a spate of national and international competitions. She began practicing with the Chinese men’s team in February of 2022, because she was at the top of the women’s team and wasn’t seeing satisfactory results from her training. In Paris she’ll be looking to make her mark in the combined boulder & lead category. “Training with the men’s team ups the pressure and difficulty,” explains head coach of China’s climbing team Cao Rongwu.

As an up-and-coming star climber, Luo Zhilu is already getting attention from hip Chinese brands like Neiwai, a local women’s underwear brand that centers body positivity and comfort.

Follow Luo Zhilu on Instagram @luozhilu_lucy.

Zhang Yufei: Swimming

Zhang Yufei Swimming World

Image via Swimming World.

For those who follow the sport, China’s champion swimmer Zhang Yufei needs no introduction. The 26-year-old women’s swimming star took altogether 3 medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (actually held in 2021, thanks again Covid): a silver in the Women’s 100 m butterfly, and two golds for the Women’s 200 m butterfly and Women’s 4 x 200 m freestyle relay, breaking Olympic and world records. Overall, Zhang is a decorated swimmer in her specialty styles, having won multiple medals in international and Chinese meets.

Even after achieving Olympic champion status, Zhang still experiences self doubt, telling Xinhua she’s afraid that even though she’s at the top of her game, she still might bring back bronze medals.

China’s swimmers have been in the spotlight recently due to reporting on an alleged doping scandal prior to the Tokyo Games. Zhang Yufei’s name was mentioned, but no further actions have been taken.

Banner image by Haedi Yue.

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