Songsong Just Wants to Eat Chinese Food

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20-year-old Shang Chunsong finished fourth in the all-around and fifth on bars at this year’s Olympic Games. Her teammate Wang Yan, just 16, had an incredible week with no major mistakes, but still didn’t earn a medal, finishing sixth all-around, fifth on vault, and fifth on floor. Reigning world uneven bars champion Fan Yilin, also 16, was sixth on beam but missed the bars final by less than half a tenth.

But the girls — all first-timers at the Olympic Games — were satisfied with their results.

“I wasn’t nervous at all today, because I know there is a large gap in scoring potential between myself and the rest of the field,” Shang said following the bars final. “I didn’t even think about the result. I was very relaxed.”

After the final, Shang closed the chapter on her journey in Rio. Looking back, she said besides being unsatisfied with the bronze in the team final and regretting her own mistakes, she was happy with everything else.

“It’s not about getting a gold medal. It’s about getting any individual medal. My goal has been to have my photo on the Wall of Champions in the national team training center, but I know that I lack in skills compared to others, so I really don’t want to set any lofty goals. I never even thought about getting an Olympic gold. Winning at a world championships would be good enough for me.”

Besides team finals and bars, Shang also competed in the all-around final in Rio, ending up one spot away from the podium. When the competition was over, Shang broke down in tears.

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“I wasn’t satisfied with myself nor with the result, because it was just so close. I wouldn’t be so devastated if the scores were further apart.”

While she was heartbroken by the results, her best Olympic memory came during the all-around final. As she cried, Marine Brevet of France came over, hugged her, and kissed her forehead to comfort her.

“Compared to the bronze that I’ve always wanted, I think I treasure the friendship more. Because we’ve only met once, so for her to come over with this gesture of kindness, it really warmed my heart.”

As simple as her wishes were for the Games, her other wishes are simple as well. Now that the competitions are over, what is the one thing she wants to do most?

“I want to go home to Zhangjiajie, to see my family,” she answered. Since earning a spot on the national team six years ago, Shang has only been back to Changsha once, for only two days.

In Changsha, she paid the deposit for an apartment for her blind brother, and she also wants to give her Olympic reward money to her parents.

“I really want them to spend the money I earned,” she said. “We are doing pretty well financially now, but they are still very frugal with themselves. Even if they spent all of it, when they earn it back they will return it to me anyway. They are just too polite with me.”

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To Shang, her family is about motivation, not pressure.

“Sending me to gymnastics coaches when I was young wasn’t cheap,” Shang explained. “My family had to go around and borrow money. My brother gave up school for me, so that he could work and support me. I believe I will one day be on the Wall of Champions, and I will keep working hard for that.”

With her own Olympic experience over with the bars final, Shang cheered on teammates Wang and Fan during the last two days of apparatus finals, encouraging them and helping them enjoy the process.

“For me, now I just want to eat Chinese food. Any dish, as long as it’s Chinese food. Even instant noodles!”

Article by Coach Lu Told Me To Be Consistent

14 thoughts on “Songsong Just Wants to Eat Chinese Food

  1. This was one of the cutest things ever and warmed my heart so so much.

    As a side note, it’s possible that bc I’m disabled this jumped out at me more…but the sentence about paying the down payment “for her blind brother” was a little jarring, Most of us in the gymternet know that he is blind and that she strives to help him so much, but it still read very much like he isn’t her brother first but a blind person to take care of. (Esp bc it comes before helping her family too, so you don’t have that context yet either.) I’m not trying to be an annoying tumblr overreacter (esp since that’s not my style). I just wanted to mention that it was a little harsh sounding. But mostly in contrast to this sweet article where I believe SongSong would’ve done this for her brother even if he were perfectly healthy. “Her brother (who is blind)” wouldve made it a little softer and meaningful in my eyes. But I realize that may just be me. I just know you’d never wanna hurt anyone’s feelings or reduce them to just their disabilities even accidentally, so it’s the only reason I mentioned it. It could be a quick fix and maintain the beautiful spirit of this article.

    Thanks for sharing this really sweet story and highlighting SongSong. I hope against hope that she can make the Wall of Champions. But also get time with her family. Oh! AND that she gets to be with her other international love, Lari, again soon!

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    • I think it’s a language thing? I’ve never really thought of this before but when I use Chinese the adjective always comes before the noun. Chinese really doesn’t have phrases like “The dog, who is cute, was eating”. It’s always “The cute dog was eating”…otherwise it sounds clunky and weird

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    • I’ll talk to the original author about changing it…but the point with Shang’s story is that because her brother is blind, she’s worked hard to buy him a house and take care of him and give him a better life. The words come from Shang’s mouth, and I don’t think she is reducing him to a disability, but rather describing him and their situation. Her brother comes first in her life, and it’s because in China, the experience of being blind is different than it is in the U.S. where there are programs and opportunities for people compared to many of China’s disabled people sadly living with a huge stigma (which exists even in the U.S., but in China it’s way worse). Shang has said that her story and her brother’s story are one in the same, and that because he can’t help himself, she wants to do everything in her power to help him.

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  3. Her humility is amazing and I hope she carries on and experiences more individual success. I think it’s sad that her high calibre performances aren’t better rewarded in the CoP. She performed fantastically in the AA, and more than that I really like her.

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  4. I love Shang so much, I really hope she get’s that bronze next year, and maybe even a silver. I’m pretty sure a USA girl will win gold whether it’s Ragan, Laurie, or a new senior like Jordan Chiles. I’d love for her to just succeed because she deserves and I love her and her gymnastics so much.

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  6. She really is such a beautiful soul. Reading this brought tears to my eyes, I so badly want her to achieve everything she dreams of.

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  7. Every time she says that she knows she’s not as talented it makes me so sad! She is incredibly talented and works so hard. The fact that she does it for her family makes your heart melt and break simultaneously. My mother in law is from Taiwan and I kept asking her to translate stuff because I always assume things get lost or the meaning has been changed slightly when translated and it was some how worse in Chinese! I mean, she placed 4th in the AA at the Olympics by a tenth of a point! I so wish she could see herself how we see her. I really hope that someone, really lots of someones, is trying to encourage her and build her up. I was happy to see in the post about Russia that you disagree with Aliya placing above Songsong. I love Aliya. And to be honest, I typically don’t enjoy the Chinese quite as much, but I loved Songsong this go around and I think she absolutely was underscored and Aliya was overscored.

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