Chinese short-track speed skater Chunlu “Lucy” Wang won 20 medals—gold, silver, and bronze—in Olympic games and world championships by the time she was 30.
Afterwards, Wang became a coach at Beijing Sport University (BSU). Yet she was haunted by the conviction that so many valuable skills she gained as an athlete were untapped and even lost. She appealed to the BSU president and convinced him that athletes like herself, who have given everything for their country, deserve a chance to put their experience and knowledge to fuller use.
Through her persistence, Wang became the first national athlete to complete a master’s degree at BSU. Today she oversees all of men’s and women’s ice hockey in China.
Wang’s example led to the creation of the China Champions program, a yearlong educational and cultural immersion experience at the University of Minnesota in partnership with BSU. In the past three years, the program has allowed a total of 25 premier Chinese athletes and three coaches to come to Minnesota.
As part of a master’s-level curriculum, the athletes take courses, seminars, and workshops, study English, tour local sport facilities, and learn from sport professionals and leaders. They share their own experiences on and off campus in an exchange of culture, education, and sport.
“The China Champions and the University of Minnesota are a bridge through which Chinese and American sports culture can learn from each other.” —Chunlu “Lucy” Wang, China Champion
This year, a gift of $100,000 was made to provide financial support to CEHD’s School of Kinesiology for the China Champions program to help advance international activities in CEHD and the University. Maud Meng, CEO of Infinite Culture Media Company of China, presented the gift at a ceremony with the champions in Burton Hall.
Her company promotes the art of living and multi-dimensional health practices, she explained. She aims to support “mind and body championship” and cross-cultural interaction that helps athletes realize their full potential and contribute to society.
“A gold medal is not a full stop for an athlete,” said Meng as she presented the gift. “Champions can also be winners in many aspects beyond the sports field.”
Learn more about the School of Kinesiology’s China Champions program.
Story by Gayla Marty | Photo by David Ellis | Fall 2017