Xu Lijia in Rio Olympic Games. (Source from Visual China)
Busy with preparation and matches, Xu Lijia had no idea that she had attracted so much online buzz after her scores were cancelled three times. Xu explained that the judgments were fair, but that as a defending champion in a traditionally Western event, she felt that her performance was being scrutinized particularly closely.
This is Xu's third Olympics. After losing one score after another, as well as sustaining injuries, Xu ranked 18th after two rounds in the women's Laser Radial sailing event, eliminating her chance to compete for a medal.
Facing with this situation, Xu explained, "I feel wronged, but this is a warning for me. When other boats get close to mine, I have to keep clear of them. Even though they had no witnesses, the arbitration disqualified me. I will definitely learn from this experience."
In the 2012 London Olympic Games, Xu won China's first gold medal for the Laser Radial event, and in doing so broke the pattern of the gold for this event invariably going to Western athletes. Xu became an interloper again at Guanabara Bay. During the competition, sailors from the U.S., the Netherlands and Turkey lodged protests in the second, seventh and eighth rounds respectively.
Xu in 2012 London Olympic Games
"The [summer] Olympic Games occur every four years. Protests, appeals and legal proceeding are understandable. Each dispute can be brought to trial. Even though the result may be rejected, we have to accept that," Xu offered.
Xu is hard of hearing in her right ear and farsighted in her left eye. However, these obstacles did not prevent her from becoming a champion. At the age of 15, she earned the top honor in the 2002 Busan Asian Games. She would have appeared in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games if not for the fact that a procedure to have a tumor excised from her left leg got in the way.
Xu won her first bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. When the games finished, however, she felt confused and lost. She came to realize that, apart from Olympics, medals and sailing, she still had other things she wanted to learn.
Xu then enrolled at Shanghai Jiaotong University, where she studied until Olympic preparations began in 2011. She thought about retirement in 2013, and never expected to be competing at the Rio Olympic Games.
Before the Rio Games, Xu was an overseas student at the University of Southampton. As the Olympic Games approached, she was eager to return. However, just one and half months before the Games began, she was confronted with a recurring shoulder injury. This made Xu anxious about qualifying for the Olympics.
Xu nevertheless has made an excellent showing in the Rio Games. After Xu's score from the second round was canceled, her ranking dropped to 23rd. However, she won third place in the third round and first place in the fourth. Thanks to the rules, her ranking shot back up.
"In the eleven rounds, we get to delete the worst score and calculate the total score of ten rounds," Xu explained.