Village girl chases Olympic dream on surfboard

2021-02-27 12:05:38

HAIKOU-On a sunny and windy day, Huang Yingying, from a small fishing village in Hainan province, wears a colorful surfing suit and applies sunscreen on the beach, before paddling out to sea and taking on the big swells. For the 20-year-old Huang, cutting back on her surfboard is like dancing on the sea. As the star player of Hainan province's surfing team, she has been training for over eight years. Huang's home is in a fishing village near the Riyue Bay in Wanning, in the southern China province. The bay has high-quality waves and is the most famous surfing resort in China. In 2002, 12-year-old Huang joined the youth surfing team, which was made up of 12 village children. The team was founded in Riyue Bay with the support of the local government. "My family lives near the sea, and I hoped my daughter can learn to swim to protect herself, so we sent her to a youth surfing team," said Yang Aimei, Huang's mother. "The first time I experienced surfing, I felt very excited. When I stood on the surfboard, I forgot about unhappy things in my life," Huang said. "Surfing then became a part of my life and the surfboard is my best friend." In 2017, China began to promote the sport nationwide and Hainan set up its first surfing team, in Wanning, that year. Huang, talented and hardworking, was successfully enrolled in the first group of players in the team. After joining the national team, Huang set her sights on qualifying for the Olympics. She decided to change from longboard to shortboard, which is a lot more difficult. "The shortboard requires better body balance and strength, I spend six hours practicing surfing in the sea every day, while the sea is cold in winter," she said. With enthusiasm and hard work, Huang won the women's shortboard title at the national surfing championships in 2019. Because of surfing, Huang has had an opportunity to travel outside of Hainan, and to go abroad, taking an airplane for the first time. Huang has surfed in the United States and Indonesia and participated in two world surfing championships in Japan. "When you go abroad to participate in the competitions, you can learn new skills and see the gap between yourself and the top players in the world," she said. "I hope to go surfing in more countries and conquer all the world-famous surfing spots in the future," she added.