Grand Slam winner Yang Haoran still on the road

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Whether it’s Olympic gold, world championships or the World Cup final, Yang Haoran has won every title possible in his shooting career.

When he received a video call from his worried mum saying her cat had broken his World Cup final trophy, he simply said, “It’s okay. I have another one of all way.”

Now the Grand Slam winner is heading to his third world championships in Cairo, Egypt, after excelling in the national selections.

“My main goal is to earn a quota place for China,” Yang said ahead of the tournament, which is one of the qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“Of course I set my eyes on the championships, but more importantly I hope to challenge myself and learn from the experience as the chances of competing in major competitions have been scarce since the COVID-19 outbreak. .”

The World Championships will adopt a new format of competition by the International Shooting Sport Federation and this has created challenges for athletes, perhaps even more so for veteran shooters who have experienced multiple versions.

“There will be more uncertainty in the new rules as two athletes are starting from zero in the medal game. And you need to improve your stamina as there are more shots compared to the rules of the previous cycle,” explained Yang, who temporarily put aside the 50m rifle three positions to focus on the air rifle.

“Furthermore, the game schedule is becoming more compact, making it tiring and distracting for athletes to compete in multiple events. An all-rounder can be a master of none.”

To adapt to the changes, Yang has increased his shooting pace under the guidance of his new coach, former Olympic champion Du Li.

“He was already an Olympic champion, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to bring the best out of him or we might have communication problems,” Du, 40, confessed of her hesitation when she was asked. assigned to train Yang at the end of last year.

However, Du’s worries turned out to be completely unfounded.

“No athlete, no matter how experienced, can train alone without a coach, who can provide an objective perspective when you’re confused by your issues.

“We used to spend years training together and we knew each other well. She was a top athlete, so she understands how I feel and knows my technical issues. We had perfect communication,” said Yang said of his former teammate who retired after the Rio 2016 Olympics.

This is also when the genie fell from the altar.

After starting shooting in 2008, Yang turned professional in 2010 to break into the national team and won gold at the Asian Championships in 2012 on his international debut at the age of 16.

He continued his medal haul over the next two years, triumphing in nearly every major competition he entered, be it National Games, World Cup Finals, World Championships, Olympics Youth or the Asian Games.

Recalling his smooth, or perhaps too smooth, journey in the early years, Yang said he felt “unreal.”

“It’s like you attend fewer classes than everyone else, but get top marks on every exam. You just pick ‘C’ for any question you’re unsure about, and they all turn out correct . It definitely makes you feel unreal,” he explained.

In Rio, 18-year-old Yang learned what hardship was like. He finished only 31st in the 10m air rifle qualification with 620.5 points, 10 points below par for him.

The big favorite did not even reach the final.

Looking back on his Olympic debut, Yang said he was grateful for the disappointing experience.

“If I hadn’t fallen and won a gold medal back then, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” he said.

He confessed that sometimes sad memories hit him when he was in Tokyo for his second Olympics, but he was mature enough not to let his past get the better of him.

“I think Tokyo was my best performance, both in the individual and mixed team events, not in terms of points, but how I was able to fully utilize my abilities honed all these years to deal with pressure and unexpected game situations.

“It was fair to say that I outdid myself,” said Yang, who had no shots under 10 for the duration of the Tokyo Olympics.

After winning the mixed team gold medal with Yang Qian, Yang Haoran finally won the Grand Slam, something he was supposed to achieve four years ago.

He was no longer the youngest on the rifle squad as he was when first called up. Years of training and hard work have made him the oldest, and now, captain of the team.

But he always yearns for more.

Yang added “TBC” after her name on China’s Weibo Twitter following the Tokyo Olympics. He made no secret of his ambitions to win an individual Olympic gold medal.

“I still want to try,” Yang said. “Whether it’s the 10m air rifle individual, or mixed team, or the 50m three-position rifle, I hope to be able to compete in all three events in Paris as long as possible.”

Paris 2024 is the medium-term goal on Yang’s agenda. He has set his short-term goal at the Asian Games in Hangzhou in 2023.

“As for my long-term goal, it is to compete as long as I still love the sport. I continue my career because of my passion for shooting. Surely I have goals, but they are more like a direction. At the end of the day, it’s all about my love for the sport,” he said.

Outside of the shooting range, Yang has a varied taste for books. Her favorite writer is Haruki Murakami. Keigo Higashino’s crime novels also appeal to him. Classics like “The Catcher in the Rye” and “The Moon and Sixpence” are on its shelves, along with three volumes of A Hypnotists Notes, China’s first documentary on psychological reasoning.

But what influenced him the most was a book called “Standing on the Edge of Two Worlds”. Author Chen Hao, who could barely move his body since birth, was diagnosed by the doctor as living no more than five years and had suffered from heart failure for 11 years. He died at the age of 20, and his mother deposited his works, including prose, novels and letters, in a book.

“I was 19 when I read the book, and I was completely overwhelmed,” Yang recalled, adding that he had also read the book “Earth Temple and Me” by novelist Shi Tiesheng, who is became paralyzed at a young age.

“I don’t like celebrity autobiographies. Their words matter because they’ve already been successful,” Yang explained. “I prefer to read the stories of those who are doomed, but strive to enjoy their lives with love for this world.”


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