We mostly know our sports stars for their strength and endurance, but there is a particularly intelligent Chinese track star known for his eyeglasses, and he has been dubbed the "Flying Spectacles Man."
A student at Beijing's Tsinghua University, Hu Kai is the first Chinese runner and the only amateur to take first place in the World University Games Men's 100 Meter event - the first time a Chinese was awarded a gold medal for a 100-meter event. The achievement yielded another honor when he was named "The Best Newcomer of 2006" by the China Laureus Sports Awards.
Born and raised in the city Qingdao, Shandong Province, and gentle in appearance, especially when wearing his glasses, Hu did not make a name for himself in sports until his third year of high school, when he set a new school record in the high jump at 1.88 meters. He was later recruited to the athletics team of the school and his great potential as a sprinter was realized. When Hu tried out for the team at Tsinghua University, he clocked 10.70 seconds in the 100-meter sprint and the coach, Li Qing, recruited him on the spot.
In 2001, Hu's excellent college entrance exam scores and running talent won him enrollment in Tsinghua University, where today he studies economics. At Tsinghua University, Hu concentrates on his studies, his sport is secondary and he remains among the top in his class. He limits his athletic training to two hours a day.
At the World University Games in 2005, after dashing across the finish line to take the gold, wrapped with his national flag, Hu, shook hands with other athletes and saluted the audience. "It is etiquette to congratulate others. We are different from professional athletes for we study and live on campus. I have been greatly influenced by the cultural ambience of prestigious Tsinghua," he said. "In track we should show another kind of charm; that of contemporary college students." As for his win, "I did expect to win a medal, but not be the champion. I was really excited to I set a new record for the Chinese team." he said.
In June, 2006, Hu again clocked 10.27 seconds to rank first in the preselection contest of the 10th National Games. Prior to that win, Hu was recruited by the Chinese national assembled training team as a reserve athlete and is being groomed for the 2008 Olympic Games.
"My father influenced me most. He is a super sports fan. I might have inherited his talents. He can finish 100m in 12 seconds." When asked if he would wear glasses in an upcoming race, he replied: "I got used to wearing glasses when training. When I was young, I was told by doctors that I could not wear contacts and I began to wear glasses. Wearing spectacles does not affect me."
(China Pictorial October 18, 2006)