Zhang celebrates her victory after winning the Half Marathon at the Universiade in South Korea on July 12. [Xinhua]
Chinese athlete Zhang Yingying, from Tianjin Normal University, finished third in the women's 10,000 meters final at the eighth Gwangju Summer Universiade in South Korea on July 8, after losing one shoe mid-race.
Zhang held on half barefoot to finish the remaining 5,000 meters with just one left sneaker during the 10,000 meters. The other foot was full of bloody blisters after she crossed the finish line.
Zhang finished in 32 minutes 56.60 seconds, only 1,25 seconds slower than the silver winner.
"I had not been thinking too much when I lost the right shoe [after another competitor stepped on her heel]. I didn't think that I should drop out half way," recalled Zhang.
"If possible, I thought the gold medal might still be winnable," she said.
In fact, Zhang had already participated in two track-and-field competitions and four days later she captured the gold medal at the women's half marathon on July 12.
"Compared with the gold, I value the bronze medal more because it was the bronze that reminds me how difficulty it was during the race, but I overcame it. It means a lot to me," explained Zhang.
Zhang's unremitting spirit and heroic act of finishing the race drew widespread attention nationwide.
"I feel so proud of Zhang's conduct, but it makes my heart ache to see such a bloody foot. If she had bent to tie the shoe, I think she would have had the capability of catching up with other runners. However, things may not have gone smoothly if she spent too long to do so," said Tian Xin, her coach.
"It maybe the last time that I, on behalf of Chinese collage students, take part in the competition, so I think that I should exert my whole efforts to win," encouraged Zhang after taking the half marathon even though she was recovering from the earlier event.
"You set a fine example for the Chinese people, which inspires me to go on no matter what kind of the challenge we confront," praised one netizen.
"You pass the positive energy on among our graduates," said one another.
Zhang indicated that she has set the ambitious goal of being awarded a laurel at the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, whilst deciding to push forward for the event, since she said that it was a pity for her to miss out on London 2012.
(Source: military.people.com.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)
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