Xu Lijia

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Xu Lijia
Personal information
Native name徐莉佳
Born (1987-08-30) 30 August 1987 (age 32)
Shanghai, China
Alma materShanghai Jiao Tong University
Height1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight60 kg (132 lb)[2]
Country China
Event(s)Laser Radial
Coached byLiu Xiaoma (刘小马)[3]
Updated on 13 August 2012.

Xu Lijia (Chinese: 徐莉佳; pinyin: Xú Lìjiā; born 30 August 1987 in Shanghai) is a Chinese sailboat racer who won a bronze medal in women's Laser Radial class at the 2008 Summer Olympics[3] and a gold medal in the same event at the 2012 Summer Olympics,[2] where she was the flag bearer for China at the closing ceremony.[4]

Early life and career[edit]

Xu Lijia was born nearly deaf in one ear and nearly blind in one eye.[4][5] She started swimming at age four and attended a sports school in the Changning District of Shanghai. When she was ten Xu was chosen by coach Zhang Jing to train for sailing.[6]

Just a year after she started sailing, Xu Lijia won the 1998 Chinese National Championships held in Hong Kong.[1]

In 1999, when she was twelve, Xu Lijia narrowly escaped death in a sudden storm while training on the open sea off the coast of Fujian Province with her coach and teammates. Wind speeds reached 20 meters per second (45 mph), resulting in 17-meter (56 ft) high waves, capsizing their boats. They were stranded at sea for more than two hours before managing to return to the base.[5][7][8]

Optimist and Europe classes[edit]

Xu Lijia began her international career aged 11 in the Optimist class in the 1998 Asian Championships,[1] winning her first international gold medal in the 1999 Asian Championships.[6] She then won the gold medals in the 2001 and 2002 World Championships, and the 2002 Asian Games, all in the Optimist class.[6]

After she reached 15, in 2003 Xu progressed to the Europe class (then an Olympic class) according to International Sailing Federation (ISAF) rules. She switched to coach Liu Xiaoma, the husband of her old coach Zhang Jing.[7]


During a routine physical examination before the 2004 Summer Olympics, doctors found a giant-cell tumor of bone near Xu Lijia's left knee. She initially hoped to postpone the tumor-removal surgery until after the Olympics, but doctors warned that the tumor could spread within months which would necessitate amputation of the leg. Xu underwent the surgery and missed the Athens Olympics.[5][8]

Laser Radial class[edit]

In 2005 Xu began racing Laser Radial class dinghies after the ISAF decided to replace the Europe class with Laser Radial in the women's sailing competition of the Olympics.[9] The next year she won gold medals at the 2006 World Championships in Los Angeles and the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.[1]

In March 2008 Xu Lijia won a silver medal at the World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. In August she won her first Olympic medal, a bronze at the Qingdao regatta of the 2008 Summer Olympics,[1] behind American sailor Anna Tunnicliffe and Gintare Volungeviciute of Lithuania.

After winning a gold medal at the 2009 National Games of China,[3] Xu took a long break from the sport in order to recover from her back injuries and to commence her studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, majoring in Business Management.[7][9] She resumed training in May 2011[9] and won a silver medal in May 2012 at the World Championships held in Boltenhagen, Germany.[1]

2012 Summer Olympics[edit]

On 6 August 2012, Xu Lijia won the gold medal in the women's Laser Radial race at the 2012 Summer Olympics, beating Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands and Evi Van Acker of Belgium.[10] It was China's second ever Olympic gold in sailing.[9]

Partly because of her inspiring story of overcoming multiple adversities to become an Olympic champion, Xu was chosen over many better known athletes to be China's flag bearer at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics.[8]

Major wins[edit]

  • 1998 Chinese Championships – Med 1.png 1st Optimist class
  • 1999 Asian Championships – Med 1.png 1st Optimist class
  • 2001 World Championships – Med 1.png 1st Optimist class
  • 2002 World Championships – Med 1.png 1st Optimist class
  • 2002 Asian Games – Med 1.png 1st Optimist class
  • 2005 Chinese National Games – Med 2.png 2nd Europe class
  • 2006 World Championships – Med 1.png 1st Laser Radial class
  • 2006 Asian Games – Med 1.png 1st Laser Radial class
  • 2008 World Championships – Med 2.png 2nd Laser Radial class
  • 2008 Olympics – Med 3.png 3rd Laser Radial class
  • 2009 National Games of China – Med 1.png 1st Laser Radial class
  • 2012 World Championships – Med 2.png 2nd Laser Radial class
  • 2012 Olympics - Med 1.png 1st Laser Radial class


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Sailor biography: Lijia Xu". ISAF. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Lijia Xu". London2012.com. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Xu Lijia". Chinese Olympic Committee. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  4. ^ a b 徐莉佳出任伦敦奥运会闭幕式中国代表团旗手. Eastday (in Chinese). 12 August 2012.
  5. ^ a b c 徐莉佳最怕别人看自己手. Sohu (in Chinese). 7 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b c 徐莉佳六年前夺帆船世界冠军 伦敦奥运终摘金. Tencent (in Chinese). 6 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  7. ^ a b c 徐莉佳12岁时战胜死神 教练:这孩子特别“要”. Sina (in Chinese). 7 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  8. ^ a b c 上海姑娘徐莉佳担任闭幕式旗手. Netease (in Chinese). 13 August 2012. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d "Xu Lijia Wins Women's Laser Radial Sailing Gold". Beijing Review. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  10. ^ Rob Hodgetts (6 August 2012). "Olympics sailing: China's Xu Lijia pips Marit Bouwmeester to gold". BBC. Archived from the original on 9 August 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.