China's First Olympic Gold Medal
In 1984, the Chinese Olympic delegation left Beijing by air in two groups on the 14th and 19th to participate in the 23rd Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles. The delegation consisted of 225 athletes and 50 coaches and competed in 16 sports apart from football, hockey, boxing, equestrians, and modern pentathlon. Additionally, China also sent a group of retired sports officials and celebrities known within the sports circles, a group of journalists and a troupe of performing artists.
The Olympic Committee in Taipei signed an agreement with the International Olympic Committee in 1981, agreeing to participate in the Los Angeles Olympic Games under the name of "Chinese Taipei," and it sent 67 athletes to compete in track and field, swimming and weightlifting events. The Chinese athletes from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait met for the first time at the Olympic Games.
On July 29, the day after the opening ceremony, the first Olympic gold medal of the 23rd Olympic Games was won in the shooting events, and Chinese athletes Xu Haifeng and Wang Yifu participated in these events. However, no one had expected that this gold medal would become a medal of great historical significance – that it would be the first gold medal in Chinese Olympic history.
Xu Haifeng was the lucky person to bear this honor. He scored 566 points in the men's free pistol slow fire to win the first gold medal for China since it made its Olympic debut in 1932, thus breaking China's record of having no gold medals.
China's First Olympic Gold Medal
On July 29, 1984, the free pistol slow-fire event took place at the Olympic shooting range. The competitors were required to fire 60 shots in two and a half hours. The sharpshooters from different parts of the world stood at 80 shooting stations. At first, all the journalists and other people concentrated their attention on Ragnar Skanaker of Sweden, winner of the free pistol slow-fire gold medal at the 20th Olympic Games, and stood behind his station. After the referee gave the starting signal, when other shooters had already fired four or five shots, Xu Haifeng was not at all anxious, and was still repeating the movements of picking up his pistol and putting it down again. His first shot was fired five minutes after the starting signal. This abnormality caught the attention of the journalists and spectators behind him, and also aroused curiosity among the crowds. The Chinese athlete in a red T-shirt at the No. 40 station began to attract attention.
Xu was in good form after firing his 28th shot. He should have continued his shooting streak, but instead, he went to sit down for a rest.
One and a half hours passed. The Chinese journalists covering the event were all anxious, but they did not dare to disturb him. The crowds and journalists behind his station sighed.
In the last stage of the competition, Xu still had the last set of 10 shots to fire. When he scored two 10s and two 9s in the first four shots, he became a bit nervous, but he quickly recovered. The lapse again evoked sighs from the Chinese journalists and the crowds.
Xu sat in repose with his eyes closed to regain his composure. He then fired all the remaining shots except for one.
Xu and Skanaker were tied before the last shot was fired. The air around seemed to stagnate, and the people were awaiting the final results. Xu raised his pistol slowly, then put it down again. He raised it and put it down again. He repeated these movements four times. He knew very well what his last shot would mean. He finally fired his last shot, and scored a perfect 10, defeating the Swedish shooter by one point, and thus winning the gold medal.
Before Xu even had time to put down his firearm, the leader of the Chinese sports delegation rushed forward to hug him.
The Chinese National Anthem Was Played for the First Time at the Olympics
After the end of the competition, all the people in the shooting range waited for the playing of the national anthem of the People's Republic of China for the first time in Olympic history as the national flag of China was hoisted. However, the medal awards ceremony had to be delayed.
It turned out that the officials of the shooting competition had expected that the Chinese shooters would produce good results, but they had never thought that they would win the gold medal, so they had only one Chinese national flag on hand. However, in the very first shooting event, there were two Chinese athletes among the top three, with Wang Yifu winning the bronze medal. According to Olympic rules, the first three finalists should all have their national flags hoisted, so another Chinese national flag was needed. The organizers had to send for another flag. Finally they found one where the national flags of competitors were stored. The medal awarding ceremony was thus delayed for an hour.
IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch had said that he would personally award the first gold medal won by China. The results were not what he had anticipated. Therefore, he was not at the venue. He went to the shooting range immediately after hearing the news, and personally awarded the gold medal to Xu. He solemnly announced: "A Chinese athlete has won the first gold medal of the Olympic Games. This is the greatest day in Chinese sports history. I am honored to be able to personally award this gold medal to the Chinese shooter."
The winning of the first gold medal by Xu Haifeng was not a simple matter. The first flag of the victor at the 23rd Olympic Games was the five-starred red flag of the People's Republic of China. This was also the first time that the Chinese national flag was hoisted at the Olympics. The national anthem of the victor played was also the national anthem of the People's Republic of China. It was also the first time that the national anthem of the People's Republic of China had ever been heard at the Olympics. The other first was even more significant. It had been the dream of Chinese people all over the world for more than a half a century to break their "zero" gold medal record at the Olympic Games. Their dream came true on July 29, 1984. This would become a date in which the Chinese people would always take pride.