China's Zhu Yaming competes in the men's triple jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Aug 5, 2021. (BEN STANSALL / AFP)
TOKYO - Zhu Yaming was in a state of loss when the Tokyo Olympics men's triple jump final arrived midway on Thursday.
Zhu finished second in the men's triple jump final, achieving a personal best of 17.57 meters in his second jump to make history for the country in this event on Thursday.
Zhu Yaming did not start professional training until 2015 at the age of 21 when he joined the Liaoning provincial team
"The final was much more intense than anything I have ever experienced or even my expectation. I was overwhelmed and had begun to doubt myself," the first-time Olympian recalled after the competition.
"I thought this was the best I could do since I have already set my personal best, but my coaches were all encouraging me and I regained some confidence."
After the interlude, Zhu further improved his personal best to 17.57 meters in his fifth attempt, which won him a silver medal and the best ranking by Chinese athletes in Olympic men's triple jump.
"I am very happy about my performance today," he said.
Zhu did not start professional training until 2015 at the age of 21 when he joined the Liaoning provincial team. Before that, he was a college student and trained on his own growing up, inspired by watching the sport on television.
He remembers the date of Nov 3, 2015, very well, which was when he officially started professional training.
"I was in my junior year of college when I made that very tough decision. I didn't receive much support from people around me, my parents also hoped that I could finish college first. But I just wanted to give it a try and I didn't care whether I would succeed at the time."
"Young people should have dreams and should try to overcome every obstacle on the journey to pursue the dreams. Fortunately, I succeed," he said.
Immediately after winning the silver medal, Zhu is already setting his eyes for the future. For him, one of the great benefits of winning an Olympic silver medal is that he would be invited to athletics Diamond League meetings, where he could compete among the best athletes more frequently.
"I think I still need more time to improve myself, to gain more experience. I haven't reached the top on my journey of the triple jump. I need to keep climbing and be a real successful jumper," he said. "I would definitely come back for Paris 2024, and maybe the next Olympics in 2028."
"Athletics is like life. It is not really about being the best among all but be the better of yourself. That's the part where I love athletics."
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