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Martial arts film comes alive for Chinese taekwondo champion
Publication Date : 10-08-2012
Child movie star blossomed into world and Olympic taekwondo champion
It wasn't Wu Jingyu's role in the film "Taekwondo" that made her famous - rather, it was her real-life Olympic performance that made her a hero.
The Chinese Olympic and world champion again proved she's the unbeatable No. 1 in the women's 49-kilogram by defeating Spaniard Brigitte Yague Enrigue to win her second Olympic gold recently.
"The taekwondo mat is my stage," she said. "It's the best place to release and show who I am. I'm totally released now after years of hard training."
Wu is the first Chinese woman to win gold in the 49-kilogram class at both the Olympic and Asian Games. She won at the 2006 Doha Asian Games and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"I give this gold to all the taekwondo athletes and my supporters in China," she said.
Wu struggled with injury and a lack of motivation after winning in Beijing in 2008.
But she overcame these hindrances to win all but one of her registered fights this year and in 2011.
"In 2008 I was still young and emotional," she said.
"The past four years have been quite hard for me, because I'd already won a world championship and an Olympic gold medal. And I was also going through some hardship."
In the 2002 film Taekwondo, the then 15-year-old played a young taekwondo fan who dreams of becoming a champion. Little did she know that would become the storyline of her actual life.
Back then, she proved formidable in some junior competitions but was looked down upon because she was short and slim.
She began taekwondo training at age 12 - a late start compared with other elite Chinese athletes.
She almost gave up when she tried to enter the national team because many people believed that being tall and having long legs is crucial to taekwondo. She was only 1.4 metres tall then.
But her coach, Wang Zhijie, insisted she persist, and she made the national team.
Wang revealed the secret to Wu's success, after he jumped on the taekwondo mat to celebrate her London victory - tai chi.
"I'm proud of see my coach celebrate in such a special way," Wu said.
"We want to tell the world we use the essence of Chinese wushu [martial arts] to discipline in daily training."
"That's what I wanted to do on an Olympic stage," Wang said.
"Her training included a lot of Chinese wushu. Celebrating Chinese martial arts is the best way to celebrate this victory."