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Rio Olympics: How China Charmed the World

Pub Date:16-08-22 16:25 Source:Xinhua

Members of China's delegation pose for photos at the Maracana Stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 21, 2016. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

It was one of the most moving moments of the Rio Olympics and it didn't have anything to do with sporting achievement.

He Zi had just received her Olympic silver medal in the women's 3m springboard final when fellow Chinese diver, Qin Kai, appeared in front of the podium.

The crowd looked on in disbelief as Qin kneeled down to present her with a ring and propose marriage.

Nobody was more surprised than He. Overcome with emotion and with tears streaming down her face, she paused, and said yes, as cheers rang around the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center.

"We have been dating now for over six years, and I didn't know he would be doing this," He said. "Qin said a lot of things, made a lot of promises, but I think the thing that touched me the most is I think this is the guy I can trust for the rest of my life."

China's Shi Tingmao, who was standing beside He as the 3m springboard gold medalist, expressed joy for her teammate.

"They have passed through a lot of things over the past few years, and this is the perfect moment for them to tie the knot," Shi said. "I am very happy for both of them."

Italy's Tania Cagnotto was also on the podium, having won the bronze medal.

"Shi knew about the surprise before the medal ceremony and told me, so I was informed. It was very nice to see," Cagnotto said.

The moment was emblematic of a new China that emerged during these Games; a China that has laid bare its emotions while placing greater emphasis on human spirit, respect and friendship than simply winning titles.

China claimed 26 gold medals here, down from 38 in London four years ago and 51 at the Beijing 2008 Games.

But Gao Zhidan, a vice president of the Chinese Olympic Committee, said the country considered the Rio Games an unqualified success.

"Chinese athletes came here to show their fighting spirit, be a bridge of friendship and show the best side of the Chinese people," Gao said.

"People will remember these Games for more than just what has happened on the sporting arena. Chinese athletes have been responsible for several moments of heart-warming humanity. And they have expressed their emotions in a way that they might not have previously done, endearing them to other athletes and fans."

One of the enduring images of these Games will be that of Chen Long crying like a baby in the arms of his coach, Xia Xuanze, after winning the badminton men's singles title. Chen, who claimed the bronze medal in London four years ago, beat gold medal favorite Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia 21-18, 21-18 in the final.

Badminton also witnessed a moment of inspiring sportsmanship after Lee defeated China's dual Olympic champion Lin Dan 15-21, 21-11, 22-20 in a gripping semifinal.

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