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Fact box: Finding a new passion

By ZHAO YIMENG | China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-14 10:05
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Ding Ning of China in action against Ishikawa Kasumi of Japan during the women's quarterfinal table tennis match at the Swedish Open Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, November 3rd, 2018. She announced her retirement on Sept 6 and will pursue her master's degree in the prestigious Peking University. [Photo/IC]


Many retired athletes become public servants or help take the reins at State-owned enterprises. For example, former Olympic table tennis champion Deng Yaping was employed as deputy secretary-general of the People's Daily newspaper group.

The data platform of Net-Ease, an internet technology company, shows that about 63 percent of 199 Olympic champions from the period 1984 to 2016 hold positions within the government system, while about 85 percent work in their own sporting field.

Some join local government bodies, such as former volleyball player Zhu Ling, who became director of the Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Sports in 2004.

Some hold posts at universities, such as champion gymnast Chen Yibing, who has taught physical education classes at Beijing Normal University.


Athletes' love for sports usually pushes them into the field where they started their careers and achieved fame. Using their deep experience, they have fostered many other champions.

After retiring from the court, Lang Ping chose to coach the Chinese women's volleyball team. Meanwhile, Liu Guoliang became head coach of the national table tennis team and led the squad at this year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Zhou Jihong, China's first gold medal diver, has coached the national diving team to 37 gold medals at seven Olympics.


Instead of becoming regular employees, some well-known Olympic champions have excelled after starting their own businesses or joining the entertainment industry.

Former gymnast Li Ning founded his sportswear empire and name brand, while fellow gymnast Li Xiaopeng invested in a technology company.

Many of those who never made the Olympic podium have stepped into sports training and education, fitness institutions, sports media and sports tourism.

Diver Tian Liang has attracted many fans after entering the entertainment industry and taking part in variety shows.

Further education

Some athletes choose to pursue further education to make up for missing school courses during their sporting careers.

In 2003, Beijing Sport University founded a "champions' class", allowing high-achieving athletes in certain sports to study for postgraduate degrees without taking any entry exams.

The prestigious Tsinghua and Peking universities also have projects to attract champions to postgraduate courses, while Renmin University of China has introduced a class that facilitates entry for high-achieving divers.

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