The Champion With Physical Strength and Intellectual Discipline
Hsu Shuching (許淑淨) from Lunbei, Yunlin (雲林崙背鄉), was the first girl born to the Hsu family in three generations. Her family is not rich, but she is still the apple of her parents’ eyes. As a child, they dressed her in lace tutu and white stockings. Now, after years of lifting weights, her neck has grown thicker and her shoulders wider. Calluses have appeared on her hands because she didn’t waste her teenage years in a typical young girl’s dream world, but spent them repeating the same basic movements: lifting up dead weight and putting it down, day after day.
With a Coach “Like Family” She Won Gold
Hsu won a silver medal for Taiwan at the London 2012 Olympics but three weeks before the Rio 2016 games, the International Weightlifting Federation announced that the London gold medalist had failed her drug test, so Hsu was officially promoted and awarded the gold! This should have been good news on the eve of her first match in Rio, but it ended up putting added pressure on her. She responded by practicing even harder, only to pull the hind muscles of her right thigh. After that, Hsu couldn’t even handle 35 kilos, and almost gave up hope of reaching the podium. But her coach, Tsai Wenyee (蔡溫義) skillfully adjusted her strategy to take advantage of each opponent’s key weaknesses and sure enough, Hsu ended up on top again! When it was over, Hsu Shuching had become Taiwan’s first two-time Olympic champion!
Except for a couple of days’ break during Chinese New Year, Hsu keeps her training regimen going all year round. At the National Sports Training Center in Zuoying, Kaohsiung (高雄左營), she works with Coach Tsai almost every day. And since her life and training are intertwined, the coach has become just like a second dad to her. She trusts him completely and responds to his instructions perfectly. Whatever the situation – whether Hsu needs to add weight to a lift or take some away, Coach Tsai is the first to let her know.
And what’s on her mind just before a big lift of 100 kilos or more? Hsu says, “When I’m up there, I am actually thinking of nothing; I just empty my head and certainly don’t care about how much my opponents can lift. I only ask myself to repeat what I’ve done in training. I believe in my coach and in myself – that’s all that matters.” Hsu is highly self-disciplined, but the road to championship doesn’t come without obstacles, such as a weight that seems too heavy, or the frequent injuries that happen. Whenever she doesn’t think she’s good enough, the coach always gives her a pat on the back, and tells her not to push herself too hard. Because of his inspiration, Hsu has never once thought of quitting, even when it seemed as if she had hit rock bottom.
With the Glory of Gold Inspiring Her, Hsu Wants to Contribute to Society
After her second gold medal, the first thing Hsu did was go back home to her family. In the beginning, her parents hadn’t approved of her getting into weightlifting – but once they saw how much she loved it, and witnessed her success, they soon became her biggest fans and now support her 100 percent! They’ve shown up to cheer for her at almost every event held in Taiwan, and even got smartphones with the express purpose of using Line and Facebook to encourage her!
Hsu admits that people have finally started to recognize all the hard work she’s put in over the years – that’s what two gold medals will do! And there is no doubt that her success has lightened her financial burden. The added attention has gained her even more fans and sponsors, but has affected her daily life as well. She used to be able to walk around without anybody noticing her, but now that she’s in “the public eye,” people scrutinize her every move. “However, I’m still pretty happy. All the attention does have a positive side. Hopefully I can use my little influence to contribute to society and to sports. I’d like to promote the Olympic spirit in Taiwan, and get everyone more involved in physical activity!” Hsu says all this with eyes sparkling.
It might seem strange for a weightlifter, but Hsu has a sensitive and attentive personality. She cares what people think of her, and what kind of impression she makes on others. This kind of responsibility used to cause her moods to swing wildly, but now she has learned to let it go. She realizes that no matter how much she achieves, there will always be those who are never satisfied. She welcomes support and encouragement gratefully, and accepts constructive criticism humbly. As for the rest – she just ignores it.
As a Spokesperson for the Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade, Hsu Calls for Everyone to Come Cheer on the Athletes
Although a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, Hsu can’t take a break yet – she has to keep training because her next goal is the Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade.
For an Olympic champion, the Universiade challenge shouldn’t be too hard, right? Hsu says that, in fact, it’s harder to win a medal in many non-Olympic international competitions because Olympic participation is governed by a quota system. Take weightlifting as an example: one country/area can only select a total of four female athletes to compete, but each weight division will accept just two competitors at most. That means that each country must evaluate the situation and decide which division they should compete in – in order to have a better chance at winning. Let’s say Hsu competes in the featherweight (53 kilo) category, and other countries assign their four athletes to other weight divisions. Hsu will have fewer opponents, and therefore her chances of winning will increase. Many other international competitions have no such quota system, and with so many qualified competitors in each division, the meet is going to be more competitive for sure.
Hsu is hoping to bring Taiwan more glory in the Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade, but as an event spokesperson, she also wants to show athletes from other countries that Taipei is a sports-minded city of international repute.
Hsu has competed all over the world, but this time she’s bringing it home! One thing that’s always struck her about competitions overseas: the loud and enthusiastic support athletes always receive from their home countrymen. As a spokesperson for the Universiade, she urges everyone to come fill the seats and cheer on Taiwan’s athletes, give them the home-field advantage. So that when they face their opponents, they will go all out for Taiwan!”
Shenzhen Summer Universiade, Silver Medal (snatch, 92 kilos; clean and jerk, 115 kilos)
Paris Weightlifting World Championships, Bronze Medal (snatch, 93 kilos)
London Olympics, Gold Medal in women’s weightlifting 53-kilo division (snatch, 96 kilos; clean and jerk, 123 kilos) (The event gold medalist failed her drug test, and the International Weightlifting Federation officially announced in 2016 that Hsu had been awarded the gold medal.)
Incheon Asian Games, Gold Medal in women weightlifting 53-kilo division (snatch, 101 kilos; clean and jerk, 132 kilos)
Weightlifting World Championships, Gold Medal in women weightlifting 53-kilo division (snatch, 96 kilos; clean and jerk, 125 kilos)
Rio 2016 Olympics, Gold Medal in women weightlifting 53-kilo division (snatch, 100 kilos; clean and jerk, 112 kilos)