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The Firsts and Pioneers

Wang Zhengting

 

 

Wang Zhengting, also known as Rutang, art name of Zibai, was born on 8t September 1882, in Fenghua, Zhejiang. He started his schooling at Trinity College in Ningbo in 1889, and in 1893, he went to the Shanghai Chinese-English School. In 1896, he was a student of the preparatory school for Peiyang University, and in 1900 he studied law.

 

Wang Zhengting, a distinguished diplomat in China, worked as the Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government of the Republic of China. He was one of the Chinese ambassadors who participated in the Paris Peace Conference and refused to sign the unfair treaties. He served as the first president of the Red Cross, the first Chinese member of the International Olympic Committee. He led the Chinese delegation to the Games of the XI Olympiad and the Games of the XIV Olympiad, and therefore became a well-known figure in the world of sports in China. For his contribution to the development of sports in China, he was deemed as the “Father of Chinese Olympics”.

 

When Wang Zhengting pursued his studies at Peiyang University, the newly introduced sporting activities were popular. In his sophomore he participated in a racing event, the first sports event held at the university. From that moment he became a keen sportsman. In 1899, he participated in preparing and organizing the Tianjin Student United Sports Event, a nationwide sports event hosted by Peiyang University. In the following years of 1902 and 1904, he organized the 1st and the 2nd Tianjin Christian Youth Sports Event, Sports Event of Tianjin Middle and Higher Institutions, and the Sports Event of Peiyang University and the New College. Wang Zhengting discovered his interest in sports, and later devoted himself to the development of sports in China. All of these were closely related to his experience in Peiyang, which had prepared him with rich experiences in preparing and organizing sport events.

 

In 1907, Wang Zhengting went to the United States for further studies, first at the University of Michigan and then Yale University. In 1911, he returned to China and held the post of deputy speaker of the Senate in the Nanjing Provisional Government, and later in the Peiyang Government, he held the posts of Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He served in the national government as a Minister of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to the United States, and became an influential figure in foreign affairs at that time.

 

Over the years, Wang Zhengting was concerned and actively involved in sports in China. He became acquainted with the Filipino member of the International Olympic Committee, Jorge B. Vargas, during his visit to China to observe and study the development of sports, and they later collaborated in the establishment of the Far Eastern Olympic Association. The Far East Games, the abbreviation of the Far Eastern Championship Games, was the start of Wang’s effort in promoting and leading the “Olympics” in Asia OR leading the Asian competition at the standards of the Olympic Games.  (Governor-General William Cameron Forbes formed the Far Eastern Olympic Association)

 

The first championship of the Far East Games was held in 1913 in Manila. The Chinese delegation under Wang’s leadership, won the second place in the games. The Chinese team won the first place at the second championship of the Far East Games, which was held in 1915 in Shanghai. The Far East Games was the first large-scale international event that China had hosted, and therefore was watched closely by the nation. The mission of preparing and organizing the event was assigned to Wang Zhengting, who sought sponsors and raised funds, and made sure the event went as smoothly as scheduled. In 1924, he was elected the honorary president of the newly founded China’s National Amateur Athletic Federation, and then in 1933, as its Chairman and Director. 

 

In 1932, Wang Zhengting, after overcoming numerous obstacles, sent Liu Changchun to attend the Games of the X Olympiad. Liu, a student in Northeastern University, the 100 meters record holder in China, became the first Chinese who attended the Olympics, and Wang became the first official who made the decision to send athletes to participate in the Olympics.

 

In November, 1935, Wang Zhengting made an official proposition to the Executive Yuan and received the approval that China could participate in the Games of the XI Olympiad in Berlin in 1936. The Chinese delegation of 140 members arrived in Berlin and participated in the preliminaries of track and field, swimming, basketball, and football, weight lifting, boxing and cycling, making no impressive records. Meanwhile, their performance of Wushu was very successful and received positive responses from the international audience. The Chinese spirit was then known. .

 

In 1947, Wang Zhengting recommended Dong Shouyi to be one of the members of the International Olympic Committee. Dong later was appointed vice-president of the All-China Sports Federation, and made a number of major contributions to the development of the “Olympic Games” in China, and also in restored the legal status of China in the International Olympic Committee.

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