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|August 29, 2000||
Chinese gymnast set to fulfill mother's dreamTan Ee Lyn in Beijing
Xie Weiting's dreams of becoming a professional gymnast came crashing down in 1966 when Mao Zedong threw China into chaos with his Cultural Revolution.
Little was she to know that 30 years later her daughter Liu Xuan would wear China's colours at the Olympics in Atlanta and distinguish herself at the 1998 Asian Games with a gold medal on the balance beam.
Liu, now China's top woman gymnast and a veteran at 21 years old, wants to end her career in Sydney with an Olympic gold medal.
"I have a lot of confidence. For me, Sydney may be my last major competition so I will fight hard for a medal. I want to give myself a triumphant finale," said Liu, who will become the first Chinese woman gymnast to appear in two Olympic Games.
Though she did not win a medal in Atlanta, her teammates brought home a pair of silvers. But China's powerful gymnastics team hopes to bag at least three golds in Sydney, including the men's team title.
Her mother, now in her mid-50s, had been preparing to enter China's then Professional Gymnastics Team when Mao began the Cultural Revolution which turned Chinese society upside down and brought sport training -- along with most other forms of education -- to a halt.
"She started before the Cultural Revolution, but when the revolution started, there was no more gymnastics and she was forced to give it up," Liu said.
Liu has inherited her mother's dreams -- with a push from her father.
"I asked my father once why he wanted me to learn gymnastics as I was doing fine at school. He said I was a sickly child and he hoped very much I could complete my mother's dream," Liu said.
Though she has trained six hours a day for the last 16 years, the last seven with the demanding national team, Liu's passion for the sport still burns.
"If I didn't like it, my father would not have allowed me to continue. But I like it very much, and after practising it professionally I am still in love with it," she said.
Liu will focus on the assymetric bars and the balance beam in Sydney but might try for the vault and floor exercise if her stamina allows.
"In gymnastics, the most formidable adversary is yourself. If you aren't confident, you can't triumph over others," she said.
Liu is leaving her plans open after Sydney.
"After the Olympics, I may have other interests that I want to immerse myself in, such as study or work. But then again, don't be surprised if you see Liu Xuan competing again in a year or two," she said with a laugh.
Though she has been her daughter's biggest cheerleader, Liu's mother supports the plan to retire from gymnastics.
"My mother is extremely happy (with my accomplishments), but she doesn't particularly want me to (carry on) as she knows how tiring and bitter it can be," she said.
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