February 5, 2023

“I’m sorry, I actually can’t leap anymore, I’ve determined to retire.” That is the message that Chinese language excessive jumper Zhang Guowei left on his Weibo in early April. Zhang Guowei used to be some of the promising excessive jumpers within the nation, with an ambition to compete within the Tokyo Olympics. Zhang’s retirement become a marvel for lots of observe and box enthusiasts following his appearances.

However it’s not at all the top of the tale. Zhang Guowei made it into media spotlights simply two months after his retirement. He now has a extra filthy rich trade to run – his social media.

In contrast to many different outstanding Chinese language athletes, Zhang isn’t embellished with medals and popularity. The Chinese language excessive jumper by no means gained a global championship name. The most productive functionality document for Zhang got here in 2015. With a functionality of two.33 meters, Zhang secured a silver medal within the International Championship in Beijing. Zhang competed two times within the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, however used to be no longer in a position to cross the qualification spherical to achieve the finals.

Observe and box occasions don’t seem to be regarded as Chinese language athletes’ sturdy swimsuit, and with out groundbreaking effects and achievements, it’s fairly sudden that an athlete like Zhang Guowei may just draw in such a lot consideration in China. As of June ninth, Zhang Guowei’s Weibo account had greater than 3.7 million fans. And perusing thru Zhang’s Weibo content material, it’s laborious to inform whether or not he’s a qualified observe and box athlete, or a comic seeking to clutch other people’s consideration.

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Zhang Guowei’s excessive leaping profession reached its top in 2015, the yr he gained a silver medal within the International Championship. His performances began to say no within the years after. In early 2020, Zhang’s perfect functionality end result used to be simply 2.28m, 5cm in need of the qualifying mark to the Olympics. Because the Tokyo Olympics had been formally postponed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Zhang Guowei’s purpose of competing within the Olympics for the 3rd time used to be changing into an increasing number of tricky to score.

Zhang Guowei is taking over a trail that greatly differs from the remainder of his friends. Chinese language state media Xinhua Information confirmed the retired excessive jumper’s video clips the place he’s cosplaying Jap cool animated film characters and demonstrates his pre-game dances. As an alternative of changing into an athlete, Zhang Guowei is changing into an entertainer with an lively presence on social media. Zhang is creating a fast alternate from a former skilled athlete to a social media influencer.

“His each and every submit on his Weibo account can obtain loads of feedback and likes from his over 3 million fans,” a record from Xinhua mentioned about his affect at the Web. The retired excessive jumper additionally gave the impression in a chain of TV methods at the side of different retired athletes.

In spite of being commanded by means of Chinese language state media, Zhang Guowei’s lively social media profile used to be no longer preferred by means of the rustic’s sports activities management officers. In March 2019, the Chinese language Athletics Affiliation determined to prohibit Zhang from collaborating in all home and global competitions. The affiliation accused Zhang of collaborating in ‘unapproved business engagements’, and claimed that Zhang’s habits significantly affected the group’s coaching and set a nasty instance.

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Zhang Guowei used to be no longer the one athlete who confronted disciplinary motion for such causes. Chinese language swimmer Ning Zetao and previous Olympic champion Tian Liang had been additionally got rid of from the Chinese language nationwide group as a result of equivalent problems.

The Chinese language sports activities management officers set out strict regulations at the athletes’ alternatives to have interaction in business and leisure actions. Whilst protecting their insurance policies by means of emphasizing keeping up excessive self-discipline and making sure coaching effects, such insurance policies also are making it laborious for athletes to transition to other careers after their retirement.

After retiring from high-performance competitions, Zhang Guowei accomplished a significant purpose in his 2nd profession of changing into an Web superstar. At the Chinese language quick video platform Douyin, Zhang has attained 230 million likes for all his humorous movies and unorthodox concepts.

Critics declare that Zhang didn’t provide himself as a good position fashion for others to practice, and attributed his declining performances to these movies which distracted the excessive jumper from attaining higher effects. But within the business of Web celebrities and social media influencers, it’s uncommon that any one may just do so a lot.

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There will probably be an afternoon within the lifetime of any skilled athlete when they are going to now not be capable to handle their perfect performances as a result of age, accidents and different elements. And for lots of different Chinese language athletes going during the nation’s sports activities management device, their destiny after retirement is reasonably unclear. Some transform training personnel and sports activities execs, others could have the danger to transform sports activities officers within the govt. However for athletes with reasonable functionality, lifestyles after retirement is incessantly very other. And not using a solid supply of source of revenue or social safety, a few of them finally end up begging at the streets.

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The upward push of quick video and social media undoubtedly presented Zhang Guowei a singular alternative to discover unchartered territories. In the case of lifestyles submit retirement from high-performance sports activities, he presented another trail for lots of athletes. Together with his video clips from mocking Kung Fu strikes to ‘consuming cokes’, Zhang effectively offers other people one thing that prime jumps can infrequently be offering – pleasure and laughter.