|Wuhan International Challenge of Crossing the Yangtze River |
Crossing the Yangtze River is a traditional sports activity of Wuhan. Since 1956 there have been 32 large-scale public activities of crossing the Yangtze River. In 2002 the crossing of the Yangtze River first changed into the international swiftly crossing race, which immediately attracted 20 excellent swimmers to take part in, they came from 11 countries such as U.S.A, Germany, Russia, and Malaysia.
Chairman Mao Zedong freely swimming in the Yangtze River
On May 31, 1956, Mao Zedong, aged 63 years old, had the first good swim in the Yangtze River, then Mao Zedong wrote in spirit the famous poem To the Tune of Prelude to Water Meloy · Swimming. In Sept. 1958, Mao Zedong had another good swim in the Yangtze River. On July 16, 1966, 73 year-old Mao Zedong once again had a good swim in the Yangtze River for a distance of 30 li in one hour and five minutes. In high spirits he said: "The Yangtze River is so wide and turbulent that it is suitable for swimming…its swift flow may train body and temper willpower."
Memorabilia of "Crossing the Yangtze River" in Wuhan
On Sept. 9, 1934, Wuhan Garrison Brigade cooperated with sports circle to hold the first race of crossing the Yangtze River in Wuhan. The start was Wuchang Hanyangmen Dock and the finish was Hankou Sanbei Dock with total distance of 5 km. There were 44 persons taking part in the crossing and 40 reached the finish. General Zhang Xueliang specially rewarded the champion - Ju Huaqiang a silver shield carrying the words: Struggle to Conquer the Huge Waves.
On Sept. 22, 1935 and on Aug. 23, 1936, Wuhan held the second and third races of crossing the Yangtze River. The start and finish were the same as before with more swimmers to take part in. After the establishment of new China, the race of crossing the Yangtze River was continued.
On June 1956, Wuhan held the first race of crossing the Yangtze River in three times with 1952 participants. Wang Renzhong, Secretary of Hubei Committee of CPC, and Li Erzhong, Secretary of Wuhan Committee of CPC took part in the crossing and successfully reached the finish.
From 1956 to 1992, Wuhan held successively 26 races of crossing the Yangtze River. (Except for 1980 to 1983).
In 1993, Wuhan race of crossing the Yangtze was renamed as International River-crossing Festival; there were then swimmers from over ten countries and regions taking part.
After 1996, for the Yangtze River flood prevention, the 30 times of races of crossing the Yangtze River was suspended for as long as four years.
In 2001, Wuhan Challenge Race of Swiftly Crossing the Yangtze River reappeared in River City (i.e. Wuhan City).
In 2002, this activity was formally named International Wuhan Challenge Race of Swiftly Crossing the Yangtze River, which would be held on May 1 of every year.