Liu Changchun (simplified Chinese: 刘长春; traditional Chinese: 劉長春; pinyin: Liú Chángchūn; Wade–Giles: Liu Ch'ang-Ch'un; listed in official Olympic records as "Liu, Cheng-Chun"; born 1909 on Ping Island, Jin County, Fengtian, China (now Wafangdian, Dalian, Liaoning Province), died February 21, 1983(1983-02-21) in Dalian, China) was a Chinese sprinter. Liu was the first athlete to represent China in competition at an Olympic Games. He was the sole competitor from the Republic of China at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles; four years later he again represented the Republic of China at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. He was also an athletics coach and physical education teacher and a sports administrator.
1932 Summer Olympics
Due to the Sino-Japanese War, the Kuomintang of the Republic of China decided to abstain from attending the Games of the X Olympiad (1932 Summer Olympic Games) in Los Angeles.The Japanese puppet state in Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia, Manchukuo, announced that two athletes, Liu Chang-chun and Yu Xi-wei would represent Manchukuo in the 1932 Summer Olympics through the de facto government-controlled newspaper. In May 1932, Liu proclaimed that as a Chinese person, he would never represent the puppet state of Manchukuo in the Olympic Games in Ta Kung Pao, a Chinese newspaper. Liu refused to represent Manchukuo, and instead decided to represent China. Liu found it difficult to participate in the 1932 Summer Olympic Games as the Kuomintang refused to finance his journey. General Zhang Xueliang (Chang Hsüeh-liang) provided 8,000 Silver Dollars (Yin-yuan) to Liu which made it possible for him to compete in the 1932 Summer Olympic Games.
On the July 31, 1932, Liu competed in the 100m preliminaries, where he was assigned to group 2 which had 6 athletes. Liu wrote about the race in his diary: "The winner ran faster than me about 4 yards at the end, his time was 10.9 sec. I was the fourth runner-up, the time was about 11 sec. In this competition, I got ahead before 60m, however, other competitors overtook me after 80m. I cannot get a better result due to exhaustion from a month-long journey to U.S., and lack of exercise during the journey." Liu registered for the Men's 100m, 200m, and 400m; where he failed to qualify for the Finals of the Men's 100m and 200m, and he did not compete in the Men's 400m due to exhaustion. After the games, he left Los Angeles on August 21, and arrived in Shanghai on September 16.
Teaching and Sports Administration Career
Liu began his teaching career in the 1930s. He taught as an assistant instructor, lecturer, associate professor, and professor of physical education at
- Northeastern University (simplified Chinese: 东北大学; traditional Chinese: 東北大學; http://www.neu.edu.cn/files/english_index.htm),
- Beijing Normal University (simplified Chinese: 北京师范大学; traditional Chinese: 北京師範大學; http://www.bnu.edu.cn/eng/),
- Northeastern Chung-Cheng University (simplified Chinese: 东北中正大学; traditional Chinese: 東北中正大學), and
- Dalian University of Technology (simplified Chinese: 大连理工大学; traditional Chinese: 大連理工大學; http://www.dlut.edu.cn/en/).
The Liu Changchun Gymnasium at Dalian University of Technology is named in honor of Liu.
As a sports administrator, Liu served in many capacities:
- In 1964 Liu was elected as a Member of the Fourth Committee of the All-China Sports Federation (simplified Chinese: 中华全国体育总会; traditional Chinese: 中華全國體育總會 http://www.sport.org.cn/), and later became a permanent committee member of the sports federation.
- In 1978 Liu served as Member of the Fifth Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
- Liu was vice chairman of the Chinese Olympic Committee (http://en.olympic.cn/china/index.html).
Liu is the author of the books Track and Field Instructional Methodology (simplified Chinese: 《田径指导法》; traditional Chinese: 《田徑指導法》) and Track and Field Judging Methodology (simplified Chinese: 《田径裁判法》; traditional Chinese: 《田徑裁判法》).
Liu's wishes for the future of sports in China
According to Liu's son, hot tears welled up in Liu's eyes when the Chinese women's team won the World Cup in 1981. He had two wishes: He wished that the Chinese would win a gold medal, the Chinese national flag would fly, and the national anthem of China would be played at an Olympic Games. His second wish was that China would host the Olympic Games. He died in 1983, just a year before China won its first Olympic Gold Medal, during the course of the 1984 Summer Olympics, China won not only one but 15 gold medals. His second wish was fulfilled 25 years after his death when China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
Liu's life became a subject of a film entitled The One Man Olympics. The film was released in 2008.