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Chinese-born American shooter makes historic appearance at National Games

(Xinhua)    09:52, August 30, 2017

China-born American Jay Shi made history at the Chinese National Games here on Monday simply by starting the men's 50m pistol competition at the Tuanbo Lake Shooting Range.

Shi, who was born in Tianjin in 1979 before immigrating to the United States when he was nine years old, became the first overseas athlete of Chinese heritage to ever make an appearance at the National Games, China's premier sporting event.

The 38-year-old seemed excited about his participation in the National Games, although he failed to progress through the qualification round.

"It's amazing. Even now I can't believe it," Shi told Xinhua after the competition. "Showing up on the National Games arena and hearing my relatives chant and cheer for me is an experience as precious as hitting a bull's eye."

In addition to Shi, seven other athletes from the Chinese diaspora were allowed to compete at the Tianjin Games. It is the first time in the 58-year history of the event that overseas Chinese have take part, a change made as part of reforms introduced by the State General Administration of Sports.

Shi, who is a web engineer by profession, says he dreamed of competing at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing but couldn't make through the US Olympic trials. Last year, Shi fulfilled his Olympic dream at Rio 2016.

But then came a blow. The International Shooting Sports Federation, the governing body for Olympic-style shooting, recommended to replace three men-only events (50m rifle prone, 50m pistol and double trap) with three mixed team events (10m air rifle, 10m air pistol and trap) at Tokyo 2020.

Shi said that he would have to switch to the air rifle under those changes. But when he learnt in July that the National Games were also open to overseas athletes of Chinese heritage, he immediately applied for a slot in the men's 50m pistol.

Shi wore a uniform bearing a banner that read 'Nan Yi Li Kai', which means 'Hard to Say Goodbye', during Monday's competition.

"This is my last 50m pistol race. What makes it even more special is the race was held in my motherland. 'Nan Yi Li Kai' is exactly how I feel," Shi explained.

Shi plans to take a day off to meet friends and relatives before flying back to the United States.

"I will always cherish this experience. I hope I can come back again to compete at the National Games in the future," he said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Xiaofei, Bianji)

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