Xinyun Zhang of China
china made rowing history at the 1988
olympic Games in seoul when it scored
its first olympic medals in rowing:
silver in the women’s coxed four and
bronze in the women’s eight. Two
olympic cycles later, at the 1996 Games
in atlanta, another olympic medal was
added to china’s tally: silver in the
women’s double sculls.
Xiuyun Zhang was part of that Atlanta crew,
along with Mianying Cao. With the 2008
Olympic Games looming ahead, China’s now
only senior female single sculler Xiuyun, 32,
is hoping to make her dream come true: row
and medal on home turf, in Beijing.
Rowing became part of Xiuyun’s life over
eighteen years ago. “I liked it as soon as I saw
it,” she says. Up until 1999 she regularly raced
in both the quadruple and double sculls at
the World Championship and Olympic level,
which has earned her one gold and three
silver medals. But the single has definitely
become Xiuyun’s preferred boat class and she
has not traded it for any other since 2002.
A heart condition forced her out of rowing
competition in the lead up to the Athens
Games in 2004, and Xiuyun took another year
off in 2005 to become a mother. An average
B Final result met her in Lucerne when she
began racing internationally again in 2006.
It seemed a coaching change was necessary.
A few months later, former Italian head coach
Giuseppe De Capua was mentoring her in
“Beppe changed a lot of things in my technique and training methods,” says Xiuyun.
“In the 1990s I was young, very capable and
fit. Now we focus more on technique.” And
her 2007 results proved the efficiency of her
new training regime, as she finished on the
podium twice during the Rowing World Cup
“Xiuyun has deep, refined inwardness and
feelings,” says De Capua. “She is a very clever
person and a highly motivated athlete. Like
all top rowers, especially top single scullers,
she needs the right working environment,
particularly from the psychological point
of view.” >>