Thanks to Ma Strength we get some subtitles on a short Lu Xuaojun documentary and a longer interview he did on CCTV.
The first video is more like a quick portrait, but nevertheless sheds some light on how and when he started weightlifting.
(Spoiler: He started with 13 and not 19, as was the rumor).
In 1997 he left the countryside in order to take up weightlifting.
In 1999 he was able to support his family through weightlifting.
In 2006, due to injuries he wanted to give up weightlifting and return home.
In 2012 he broke the world record in the total and won the Olympic Games men’s weightlifting 77 kg class.
In 16 years, a country boy rushed to the pinnacle of world championship.
Lu Xiaojun was born in 1984 in the village of Qianjiang City, Hubei Province to Lu Yuan’s ordinary farmer family.
I was running 200 and 400m sprintsIn a chance opportunity he became involved in weightlifting.
That year was 1997.
“I represented our township in weightlifting after contacting Qianjiang City to participate in the competition. At that time I was running the 200 m and 400 m sprints. Suddenly a coach found me, I did not know who he was, or what he was doing. He said why don’t you come practice weightlifting with me?”
At that time Lu Xiaojun was 13 years old, and barely knew anything about weightlifting.
Why would he promise the coach [to learn weightlifting]?
“When I began at the sports school, I figured I could finally escape from the rural area. My father also had the same feeling.
Going to the city seemed like a breath of fresh air.”
“When starting to learn weightlifting, children’s hands get torn. But during this time, he did not give up. He did not fear pain.”
Despite Lu Xiaojun’s toughness, the rest of the year was not so smooth. In 1999, just two years after he entered the municipal sports school there was an accident at home.
“My dad had an accident with his tractor.”
Did he hit someone? – “Yes, yes, yes.”
His father looked everywhere to borrow money and his older sister dropped out of school to go out doing odd jobs. 16 year-old Lu Xiaojun was very troubled.
At that time, besides his school expense of 1000 Yuan per semester. His monthly living expenses required an additional 500 to 600 Yuan. In order to save money for his family, he considered dropping out.
“We did not quite spend 10,000 yuan to support him, but rather 8-9 thousand per year. For his food, clothing, and pocket money.”
“I did not want to cause too much trouble to the family, I just wanted to go home, even if it meant working odd jobs.”
Because Lu Xiaojun was outstanding, Coach Dengling Hu was reluctant to let him out of school.
In 1999 he came up with a good solution.
“I talked with the coach about wanting to drop out. Dropping out, can reduce the burden on the family. It will save at least more than 2000 yuan, which is not a small amount. Afterwards the coach sent me directly to the [Hubei] provincial team at a relatively low cost. I just had to pay living expenses.”
Joining the provincial team to train was Lu Xiaojun’s dream, but most important was the ease of the economic burden on his family.
This is because there are no tuition fees and if he trained well, he could take part in some competitions. And if he medaled there would be a corresponding bonus.
“That time indeed was really just to persevere for my family. While at the same time reducing the burden on my family and still having good training to earn some subsidies and make some money.”
Because Lu Xiaojun trained hard, his achievements superseded those of others.
In 2003, 19-year-old Lu Xiaojun represented the Hubei Provincial team in the National Weightlifting Championships 69 kg class, and won Bronze.
This award not only earned Lu Xiaojun 5,000 yuan in prize money. It also took his career up to a new level.
“In 2003 I entered the National team. In the national team, relatively speaking, I do not have any cost burden.”
During this time his family’s situation improved and his thoughts quietly began to change.
Lu Xiaojun told reporters that from the age of 19 he took weightlifting as his career.
He wanted to adhere to ideals, and honor and uphold the country. That is the thinking one must have to take the championship title.
Winning became Lu Xiaojun’s goal. To achieve this end, he trained even harder and quickly came to the fore in the national team.
In 2004 alone he was able to get two first-place titles one in the Junior World Championships men’s 69 kg [Video] class champion the other in the “China-Japan-Korea” weightlifting tournament where he won the 69 kg title.
However, long periods of heavy, intense weight training resulted in his body beginning to warn him.
“Yes, by the end of 2006 my body hurt, shoulder and legs both hurt because of a ligament injury. After the ligament injury I could not move, it hurt to move it slightly.”
After many treatments with no effect, in desperation, he chose to leave the national team.
“I could not sleep the night before I would leave the national team and my heart was very painful, you know, it’s that some of my goals and dreams would not be realized. Like “bam” my dreams shattered and my future finished, then my mind went blank. It seems I never dared to think about my future life goals and dreams, this is real pain!”
So Lu Xiaojun with injuries and pain decided to leave the national team and returned to his hometown in Hubei Qianjiang to recuperate.
Lu Xiaojun returned to the national team in 2008 and opened his brilliant life journey.
Interview Part 1
The Interviews below seem to be from some kind of gala in an agricultural University and you get the impression that Lu doesn’t want to be there at all.
Well, friends, let us give a warm applause and welcome our 2012 London Olympic champion Lu Xiaojun (A round of applause )
Can you hear them Lu Xiaojun?
Today you look in good spirits! [Lu: Hello everyone]
When I look at you I realize you are thinner than I had imagined. Don’t you all agree? However, you are still very handsome! Our one commentator said Lu Xiaojun has an armor-like muscles, but you cannot see them through clothes. Xiaojun, when you won the championship, I noticed media reports with the major headline that you won the Olympic gold medal.
While this can be described as digging Olympic gold out from a piece of rural land, I do not know how you explain the meaning of the gold medal?
Lu Xuaojun: I want to say that I was an ordinary child raised by farmers, and obtaining the gold medal is the result of many years of hard work.
Your own hard work? [he nods]
Lu Xiaojun’s home is in the Hubei countryside. Hes farmer’s child who has been lifting weights for 16 years, right? It was 16 years?
16 years. Afterwards you finally realized your dream of standing on the highest podium at Olympics. I especially want to ask yos a rural child, step by step up through today when you obtained the Olympic gold medal. What kind of spirit did you rely on? While you think of the Olympic gold medal, “gold” and its meaning, what was the most important thing for you?
Lu Xiaojun: For me, after passing all these years, actually, most of my memories are of my family’s moral support for me.
Because my family was behind me paying too much hardship, I felt the need to endure more hardship.
One can imagine when you lift weights it must be very hard, right?
Lu Xiaojun: Yes, I tend to practice more than others during training, and for a longer time, and with more effort than others, so that I can raise my athletic level up to a higher level.
Your family members are grain farmers right?
Yes. I remember as a child my parents began farming 4-5 acres of land.
When you are home, do you help your family do some farm work?
Sure. Whether farming fields, helping clean at home, transporting equipment and other agriculture, I can do all of this.
I always wanted to be able to do something for my parents, allowing them to relax, get some rest.
Do you think 16 years of daily lifting weights is hard [on you]?
In my opinion, it is hard to say yes, but it is possible. They say its hard and it sounds hard, but ever since I chose weightlifting, no matter how tough or tiring, I will endure and overcome difficulties, and stick with it to reach the top.
You finally came top Lu Xiaojun!
[nods] Yes, yes, yes.
The moment at the London Olympics when you won the gold medal, we all saw it. At that moment on the stage, one can use the word “wild” to describe Lu Xiaojun! You were so wild that moment you picked up your coach Yu Jie right?
Yes, yes, yes.
I actually would like to have not seen that moment. Did you all notice? He was on stage and pulled up his Coach Yu from backstage and held him up on the platform. Afterwards I thought that was very dangerous. I was afraid you would worry about being unable to control your excitement, and Coach Yu would fall like a barbell! We have a few pictures of the scene of Xiaojun holding up his coach. Look at that. No one has stared before. At that moment, what were you shouting about?
You see, you see! My worry was very necessary…This is not a hug, this is wrestling! Yeah!
This is indeed a hug, ha ha! I was from the back trying to hold my coach up to the front.
You do not so far away from me, you can come a little closer. Come, come. Come to the middle, come to the middle. It can be seen that there are particularly strong feelings between you and the coach. Right?
Yes. Since the end of 2008, I began to practice weightlifting with Coach Yu Jie.
Coach Yu, Coach Yu Jie, we call him Master Yu.
Yes, by the end of 2008 I began to practice weightlifting with Coach Yu. In fact, his personality is very similar to my own, so we get along very well, it is very easy to communicate and exchange, he is a very cheerful person.
He seems serious, he values you very much?
What can I say, we have known each other for a long time
–Nurtures you and accompany you?
Also we have met many times at the National Games, and are more understanding of each other. However, for him, at that time I had not trained in two years. Coach Yu dared to accept me and I was a problem to accept!
Afterwards he took me in.
Why did he accept you?
I have not had the nerve to ask him.
So be it.
Let us put it this way, your coach has a lot of thoughts you don’t know. Today we originally wanted to invite the coach himself to the stage, however due to knee injuries the coach recently had to undergo knee surgery. So it is not possible to come to our stage. For this reason, our reporter deliberately went to the hospital to visit him, and he shot a video, come! Let’s take a look together.
Yu Jie: I hope the 2012 Olympic Games are a new starting point for Lu Xiaojun, and in the subsequent growth to redouble efforts to foster a greater goal.
You still have the potential, strive in the next contest, desire to retake gold in the next Olympics. In other aspects [of your life] also move upward and make a good effort.
Did you hear that, Xiaojun? Hidden in your coach’s heart there is a great dream being sent upon you. I hope you retake the next Olympic Games Olympic gold medal.
Yes, I also have this wish to be ready for the 2016 Games and retake the gold.
Come on! Come on!
We applaud Lu Xiaojun, let him continue to fulfill his next dream. But we also to give our applause and blessings to his coach. We wish him a speedy recovery!
Xiaojun, come…this side.
We remember in September or October you participated in a charity event right, or rather hosting a charity event. Is that right? Please tell us about it. About doing the charity event in your hometown.
Yes. About a month later after the Olympic Games I returned to my hometown. However, I noticed that through all these years, no major changes occurred in my home environment.
Because when I was little there was still a lot of poverty.
In particular I noticed the lifestyles of some of my neighbors. Some are not rich, and even very poor. I also visited some of the schools and they were in poor condition. In the past I thought about getting out of here.
So I came up with an idea, it is necessary for me to my modest part to help with home construction to help others, especially those relatively disadvantaged students.
Xiaojun, you originally set up a fund called the “love fund.” Introduce it with us, what kind of fund is it?
After contributing to my hometown, I thought we should set up a fund, so that it would continue to contribute and play a greater role.
In this aspect, I decided to put my gold medals up for auction, and the auction proceeds will be used for this fund.
You currently have how many gold medals?
World class gold medals?
Right now, I have…about 5-6.
5-6 World-class gold medals. Just now Xiaojun said he will donate the gold from his first gold medal.
So you will put your first gold medal up for donation.
Yes, although the gold medal for me is a very memorable, taking this gold was also an important turning point in my life.
Well, do you have any reluctance in your heart?
Eh, that is nothing, I just want to help more impoverished students in my through this charity. So I think it is worth doing so.
Xiaojun is usually training and rarely goes back home, about how long can you go home to see your parents?
How can I say…because I undertook so many years of heavy training it has been about 12-13 years that I have not gone home to my family during the Spring Festival New Year.
12-13 years without going home to his family for the New Year?
Yes. Every coach spends the New Year together with his family about 3 times total.
I guess your family only sees you in competition in front of the TV screen, right?
Yes, my family generally sees me more through television than in person.
But today, our stage is not the same, Xiaojun, look to your left, look who it is…
– Hey Ma!
– Lu Xiaojun!
Come to the center Auntie. Welcome. The is Lu Xiaojun’s mother Ai-Ping. I would especially would like to ask you, as a mother, um… since you usually cannot see your son, in fact, deep down you really miss him. Seeing him train so hard for all these years, what do you want to say most to him?
Mother: Yes, I usually miss him. When I do I would like to call him, but I am afraid that calling will be an interference and affect his training. So, I usually do not call often.
Phone calls are rare because it might influence of his training.
Yes. It might affect his training.
When Xiaojun was a child at home, when did you find out he was particularly strong? Did you realize he was especially talented for weightlifting?
Yes, when Xiaojun was little our family situation was more difficult, farming a lot of farmland about 7-8 acres, our family planted soybeans.
We usually had a bag weighing 170-180 “jing” [which is equivalent to half a kilo. So its 85-90kg]
A 90kg bag?
He weighed about 60kg at the time, and when his dad and I were ready to carry it, Xiaojun said “don’t carry that”. Then he single-handedly carried the bag and left.
He carried it away!
I asked him if he was okay, and he said “no problem”.
How old was he at that time?
He was a teenager.
So he had not yet come to Beijing.
Lu Xiaojun: I was in about 11th or 12th grade.
When a person carries 85-90kg bag, it is an extreme carry. However, this is not a problem presently for Lu Xiaojun. At the Olympics his final achievement in the Clean & Jerk was 204 kg, am I right?
204 kg! Auntie. Just a moment ago, Lu Xiaojun said he that he can help you do some farm work when he is at home. Can he do farm work?
Mother: Yes he can.
He can? What can he do?
Mother: He can clear land, ride a tractor…
Wow, he is a very skilled laborer!
Lu Xiaojun: I helped harvest wheat at home, pick cotton, all of those I can do.
You are mama’s good little helper. You two are close? Are you closest to your mom?
I’m closer to my dad.
Closer to your dad? You did not give your mother much face!
Mother: He is very naughty child.
So what is the reason for that?
The reason is because he was very naughty as a child. I had to discipline him.
Naughty child is normal. Strict discipline is normal. How strict were you?
Lu Xiaojun: My dad always protected me.
Say what!? His father would be the “good cop” and I was the “bad cop.
Interview Part 2
See, this may be your father’s plan! Xiaojun is now very disciplined.
Mother: Now we do not need to manage him, he grew up to be very sensible.
Do you think that he has changed before and after he became Olympic champion?
There were big changes.
What kind of changes? Were they changes for the better, or worse?
He became more mature, and learned to honor his parents.
Lu Xiaojun: Afterwards, I wanted to find more time to see my parents.
When you sprint to the dream, you should also find time to go home to have a look. Auntie, today you be very excited, on this stage with Xiaojun you still are not able to release your feelings.
Mom has always been afraid to watch my competitions, because the competition is too exciting, her heart cannot stand it.
Then during the Olympic tournament I guess you were afraid to watch.
Mother:Yes I was afraid to watch.
Xiaojun, as his mom said, is more mature, and grown up than in the past. We can see in his past Lu Xiaojun can rely on himself, diligently practice weightlifting and now he can learn to set up “love fund” to help others. Auntie, you must be proud to have such a son.
Thank you hostess for the encouragement and praise.
I also thank you for your guidance, let us give a round of applause to Lu Xiaojun, and Lu Xiaojun’s mother.
Good, next we turn to [on-site media reporter] Yang Yu.
Reporter: Xiaojun, I, like my teachers and classmates present, became familiar with you on the TV screen of the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Today, we know and understand a lot of your other sides. We know that you paid a lot of hard work for weightlifting, and that you have started to muster energy for philanthropic public service. Here I give your dear mother my support. Given the need to harvest crops in a year’s time you, just like our friends on the national weightlifting team’s say, let’s go home for a visit, then, as long as half a day you work is finished.
Yang Yu, do you mean the champion is out of practice?
Reporter: Yes. Given your teammates add to a richer training experience. Xiaojun, I want to ask you if there are many champions like you from the countryside on your team?
Lu Xiaojun: About half and half.
Reporter: Then we wonder, what characteristics and strengths do you feel children coming from the countryside have in contrast to the other half [from the city]?
My experience is that children like me from the countryside can endure hardship, the determination quality is quite stronger. They are able to withstand hard work.
This seems like the the training mission your coach gave you is more relaxed than your father’s farm? Today our site is different from others. The audience in front of you studies agriculture at the university, both students and teachers. These young people want to go into agriculture in the future. You are from the countryside but we have just seen that your heart is still there. So they will be working in the countryside, do you have anything you can say to them here? Because their future is to go to the countryside.
Today I want to say that today I cordially came to your Agricultural University. Because the National Agricultural University trains talented people…
Yes, just like you, they are all leaders.
Yes, yes, yes, what I want to say is…what I often say to myself…
Words of self-encouragement.
Yes, yes. What I want to say is, give yourself a little more confidence and strive to realize your dreams and create a better future.
Good, thank you Xiaojun.
I think today we see Lu Xiaojun’s experience, and are not saying let us all become Olympic champion. As a matter of fact, it says to wish all the people from rural areas with relevant experience to work together. We all must cultivate the land for you to grow into a “World Champion”. Do agricultural science and technology, but also strive to create a world champion, here we thank Xie Xiaojun!
Well, upon hearing Yang Yu’s commentary, I really would like to ask XiaojuWe see a lot of Olympic champions are born from rural areas, where family economic conditions are not very well-off, so Xiaojun’s family is no exception. So right after you won the Olympic champion, involving the future after you retire have you ever wondered how to arrange the next life? Have you thought about it?
Right now I have not thought about retirement, because my eyes are first considering how to prepare for and persevere the next four years of training for the Olympics.
I think about how to give myself a little more confidence….and self-confidence, because after all I am a 28-year-old man.
You are the oldest athlete on the team right?
Yes. So if I persist these next 4 years this term there will surely be more difficulties and challenges compared to the 2012 Olympics. So, I now want to build more self-confidence to overcome the difficulties and preserve in the next four years.
So what is your long-term vision?
As for the future, I really have not considered it much. Because right now I just want to concentrate and think about on how to prepare for Brazil. So, for now I do not consider the things of the future.
Yang Yu, I wonder how you see this issue? How these children from rural areas arrange and plan their future, namely their direction or how they walk their future road of development?
From here on it’s just people praising Lu and his accomplishments.
Wow, I already thought he was an amazing athlete… but now I have the utmost respect for him as a human being.
what a legend. 2016 is going to be so freaking interesting!
The weight for the bag is 170-180 “jing” which is equivalent to half a kilo. So its 85-90kg.
Thanks Dan. Glad you corrected it. I think errors like these are how legends and religions get started 😀
What about the other weights mentioned (like him being 60kg at the time)? Are those correct?
I actually didn’t hear a mention of his weight in that line, so maybe it some type of fact they added? It did say he competed at 69kg before doing 77 so probably his bodyweight as a teenager.
Also 1 “mu di” is around 1/6th of an acre (.07 hectares). So 20-30 estimate is probably around 4-5 acres. His mom mentions 40-50, so that converts to 7-8 acres. Just some subtleties in measurement.
He will Olimpic Champion in RIO-2016 and Tokio-2020 in 77 kg. Very strong sportsmen.