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Chinese children learn sports such as table tennis at a very young age.

A journey of a thousand miles, the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu 老子 said, begins with a single step. And so does a race of 100 meters and a nation’s journey to the Olympic spotlight.

In 1932 a young man named Liu took that step when he moved into his starting position for the Olympic 100-meter race. As he did, he must have felt the great burden of the moment’s historical significance; he must have withered under the weight of the expectations of a whole nation. LIU Changchun 刘长春 was at that moment the first Chinese ever to participate in the Olympic Games, and he was the single representative of the young Chinese Republic at the Olympics in Los Angeles.

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