Another "pride of Taiwan" has been born. Hsu Shu-ching, a 21-year-old university student from Yunlin County, clinched Taiwan's first medal in the London Olympic Games.
She took silver in the women's 53kg weightlifting event with a combined lift of 219 kilograms Sunday.
Weightlifting has traditionally been a strong event for Taiwan. Since Tsai Wen-yi won a bronze medal in the men's featherweight category at the 1984 Summer Olympics, we have nurtured a depth of weightlifting talent.
Our weightlifters failed to live up to expectations at recent Olympics, however, seemingly because of internal divisions and other obstacles. Hsu's silver medal has delivered a badly needed shot in the arm to our ailing weightlifting program and is also expected to boost the morale of our Olympic team.
Hsu's success is significant for another reason: she is a homegrown talent. She has never been sent abroad for training nor has she ever been tutored by a foreign coach. She started her training with coach Wu Chi-chen and then worked with Olympic bronze medalist Tsai.
Her rise indicates that our sports environment has matured and that we can train a new generation of talent in the field as long as we establish an appropriate training system.
In recent years, Taiwan has developed world-class athletes in baseball, badminton, table tennis and golf. We believe Hsu's Olympic medal will inspire more of our youngsters to pursue excellence in various sporting fields.
While winning a medal is a great achievement, the Olympic Games mainly celebrate the spirit of sportsmanship and encourage people to take up sports.
Only if we encourage our overall sporting population to grow, which then leads to an increase in talented athletes who are then supported by a sound training system to perform well on the international stage, will winning Olympic medals be truly meaningful.
We should never forget that exercise and athletic training are not only for developing medal-winning athletes. What's more important is spreading sports and exercise to every corner of campuses and residential communities around Taiwan. (Editorial abstract -- July 30, 2012).
(By Sofia Wu)