Weekend
 

Lijia Xu - Golden Lily, Asia's first sailing gold medalist

Lijia (Lily) Xu won the Laser Radial gold at London 2012, the first ever sailing dinghy gold medal for China and Asia. Her journey to this point is like nothing ever experienced by a British sailing Olympian.

Lijia (Lily) Xu - Click image for a larger image

From the age of ten, Lily, who had spent the previous five years training to be a swimmer, was picked almost at random, to attend an Optimist training camp and from 50 participants there, Lily was one of three chosen.

She says of her decision to accept the offer at ten years old, "I was completely positive about being a sailor - totally ignorant of what challenges and tough situations lay ahead of me. It was my choice and I would never regret it."

Lily then left home to become a full time professional sailor not long after her tenth birthday. Travelling three days to the south of China to Haikou on Hainan Island and from then on she only saw her parents once or twice a year for a few day's holiday after a championship.

Winning her first Optimist World title in 2001 in Qingdao, China, helped by illegal sculling, Lily defended it successfully (and legally) in Texas, USA in 2002. She then moved to the Europe class. But in December 2002 a tumour in her left thigh-bone meant she needed an operation to replace the bone, after her parents had purchased a suitable replacement bone for £500.

Lily's progress in the Radial when it replaced the Europe in the Olympics was rapid, winning the Radial Worlds in 2006 in Los Angeles after less than eight months sailing the boat. It was at this event she first met Jon Emmett who later became her coach . . . Lily's journey to gold in 2012 was about to begin.

This book provides a fascinating peak into a very different system of living and training. One which Lily both accepted and then eventually broke away from to study in the UK, despite the threats to lose her life-long privileges as an Olympic Champion.

Lijia (Lily) Xu, who has made the UK her home for the last 3 years, will formally launch her new autobiography, Golden Lily, at 11.30 am on Sunday 6 March at the Dinghy Show, on the Fernhurst Books stand (H70) and will be signing copies of her book from 12 noon to 2 pm.

Details at fernhurstbooks.com

Gerald New
28 February 2016 18:27 GMT


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