Wang Shilin (1912-2001), born in Jilin City, Jilin Province, has been engaged in teaching and training after graduated from Peking Sports College in 1937. He joined the Central Institute of Physical Education (now Beijing Sport University) as a postgraduate tutor and professor when the Department of Physical Education at Beijing Normal University was merged into the former. He is also known as the “Jumping King in China”.
The flat-footed “Jumping King in China”
Professor Wang Shilin was admired in the society for his sports talents as early as before liberation, and called the “Jumping King in China” due to his outstanding performance in track and field events. He won championships in the national long jump, the triple jump and the high jump. In 1936, he broke two national records of long jump and triple jump at the Peking Spring Games. He represented the old China in the 10th Far Eastern Championship Games (FECG) held in Manila, Philippines in 1934, and in the 11th Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany in 1936.
Yu Xinlu, a student of Professor Wang Shilin, recalled, “Teacher Wang was born with flat feet which is not superior innate conditions. He is the most unsuitable for practicing jumping from the modern perspective, but he has refused to lose and finally achieved unpredictable success with his own efforts after overcoming all kinds of difficulties.”
The elderly teacher practicing personally in the high jump venue
Wang Shilin is seriously responsible for his work and always practicing what is taught. He still demonstrated what was taught to the students on the playground even when he was 60 years old. In order to prepare well for the “back-style” high jump lessons, he would repeatedly jump and practice himself first before class and teach the students to enable them to realize the essentials of the actions.
Yu Xinlu said with tears in his eyes, “The generation of them has not learned this kind of high jump posture. We are all afraid that he may fall and advise him not to jump. But he said that he might lead young people astray if he had not understood and realized the essentials as a teacher before teaching the students. He held poles to demonstrate to the postgraduates and practiced the pole jump even when he was more than 60 years old. The serious spirit has always inspired us. I was very excited and moved when I saw this scene. He has educated the next generation of people on how to treat their own career with his practical actions.” Professor Wang Shilin is admirable for his unselfish dedication to the young generation, and worth learning and emulating by the majority of young teachers.
A member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) qualified newly at the age of 70
As the first decathlon coach of Yu Xinlu, Wang Shilin taught and practiced his disciples his skills and experience without reservation. Yu Xinlu, trained by Wang Shilin for two years, broke the national record of decathlon twice. Yu Xinlu said, “I have encountered many difficulties and setbacks over the two years in my memory. Teacher Wang has always inspired and guided me and never gotten angry. He often inspired and encouraged me with some idioms or proverbs. For example, when I encountered technical difficulties, he told me without saying too much truth that Rome was not build in one day and a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. When I practiced crazily without rest, he was afraid of my overtraining and said that one could not bite off more than he could chew to avoid choking. He often eased the boring and tense atmosphere of training with some popular and humorous words, so as to regulate emotions and improve training quality.”
Wang Shilin was rated as the “advanced worker” by Beijing Institute of Physical Education in 1978, awarded the “New China Sports Pioneer Medal of Honor” and the “Physical Education and Sports Medal of Honor” by the State Physical Education and Sports Commission respectively in 1985 and in 1988 and 1997, elected as the “Outstanding Physical Education Teacher of National Universities” by the State Education Commission in 1992, and awarded a special government allowance by the State Council in 1992.
As recalled by Wang Shilin, the sports were extremely backward with extremely poor training conditions in the old China, and he was always discriminated by others before liberation. He suffered a lot in order to improve the backward sports in the harsh environment. Wang Shilin has witnessed the profound changes in the sports after the People’s Republic of China was founded. The status of sports and sportsmen (from the first world champion to the first Olympic champion) has changed dramatically in the People’s Republic of China in just a few decades. Wang Shilin, grateful to the CPC from the bottom of his heart, wanted to pay back the CPC with his own knowledge and experience and decided to become a vanguard of communism. Finally, he became a glorious member of the CPC at the age of 70. He usually educated his disciples by comparing his pre-liberation experience with the current conditions, and told them to cherish such good conditions created by the CPC and the country and win glory for the nation.