17-year-old Chinese street dancer aims for breakthrough at Paris 2024
Liu Qingyi Photo: CFP
China's 17-year-old Liu Qingyi is one step closer to her dream at Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games as the street dancer won a gold medal in the Breaking for Gold World Series 2023, the first Olympic points event in break dancing this year.
Liu won the gold medal by defeating Japan's home favorite and world champion Ami Yuasa in a tense final. Both female dancers qualified for the final in an 81-woman competition.
"The past winter season I have integrated some Chinese elements in my performance," Liu told reporters after the win, noting she had spent nearly three months for the event.
Speaking of her achievement of defeating the defending world champion, Liu rejects being complacent.
"It's either win or lose when you enter a competition. Nobody could win forever," Liu said. "I am happy to win but I am also here to learn and communicate."
Liu is among the other seven players in the newly assembled break dance national team which was unveiled in January.
"We have taken the lessons from the competitions we participated last year," Liu said. "We have improved a lot, both mentally and physically."
The prodigy has set her goal this year as qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics as early as possible, with her mind already on a podium finish at the Games.
"I hope I can get the qualification as early as possible this year so I can prepare some 'secret weapons' for the Games," Liu told reporters.
The World Championships in Leuven, Belgium will take place from September 22 to 24 and the break dance events at Hangzhou Asian Games on October 6 and 7 could be vital for the Chinese dancers who want to get a direct pass to the Olympics next year.
Winners of these two events will qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics, according to Yin Guochen, President of the Chinese Dance Sport Federation.
Aside from these fiercely competitive tournaments, athletes could also qualify for the Olympics by participating in competitions to collect Olympic ranking points to make their way toward the prestigious quadrennial sports event.
"I hope I can make a podium finish at the Paris Olympics," Liu told the Global Times in a previous interview. "I will do my best to vie for it."
But this is no easy task, as Liu and her teammates have to face challenges from many other world-level athletes.
As a newcomer, "we have to do more and try our best to catch up," she said.
"China has so many promising B-boys and B-girls. We also have our own advantages and styles," Liu added.
Breaking, a style of street dance that originated in the US in the 1970s, made its debut at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in 2018 and was chosen to be a competitive sport at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Rise to fame
With break dancing becoming an official sport at the 2024 Paris Olympics, it is becoming more widely known and giving more dancers the chance to turn their hobby into a career.
"The Olympic entrance has greatly increased the awareness of break dancing and helped eliminate the prejudice against it," Liu said. "We are lucky to experience a great time."
Liu, a break dancer from Central China's Henan Province, rose to fame after winning the gold medal at the Outbreak Europe 2022 breakdance competition last year at the age of 16.
This was a milestone for Chinese breakdance as she became the first Chinese B-girl to ever win an international title.
Liu, known as B-girl 671 as the number in Chinese is pronounced similarly to her name, saw street dance for the first time in her hometown of Huixian county in Henan, when she was only 10 years old.
She said she felt deeply attracted by the performer's cool and dynamic dance.
Thanks to her parents' continuous support, during her childhood Liu also learned guitar, taekwondo and boxing. Her interest in intense activities then led her toward break dance.
"I've been engaged in many sports and hobbies, but found that hip-hop is my one true love after I started learning it," Liu said.
It is through dancing that she overcame her shy nature.
"Before breaking, if I didn't know someone, I couldn't even talk to them."
Now she believes that dancing will be her lifetime career.
"Dancing is eternal for me as it represents the pursuit of art. I will never stop exploring," Liu said.
"Every dancer has their own ideas to express, which means we will develop different understandings about dancing. I will improve my dance and learn from various styles with new elements."
The young lady has also set her sights further than this year's world championships, Asian Games and even the Olympics.
"I am super lucky already as it's not easy to turn one's hobby into a career," she said.
"As a dancer I hope I will be able to stay passionate about this sport and continue to dance as long as I can."
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