He Cihong: From athlete to coach, the pursuit lives on

He Cihong, coach and deputy captain of the August 1st Swimming Team of Chinese People's Liberation Army, was once a top player from the Military World Games who later successfully became a coach.

Born in 1975, He broke Asian records in the women's 100m and 200m backstroke five times in 1993 and won all domestic competitions in the women's 100m backstroke from 1991 to 1993. In 1994, at the 7th FINA World Championships, she claimed three golds, including women's 100m and 200m backstroke and the 4×100m medley relay.

She participated in the first Military World Games (MWG) held in Rome, Italy, in 1994, where she won two silvers in the women's 50m and 100m backstroke.

Watching the national flag rise from the podium, He felt a different kind of excitement. She had already broken the world record in the women's 100m backstroke at the 7th FINA World Championships the previous year, but this time was the MWG's podium. Being able to salute the national flag as a soldier-athlete brought her unprecedented thrill. Not capturing a gold, however, left her with regret.

At the second MWG, He made good on that regret and earned the gold medal.

He Cihong marched on with the beat of her drum after retirement in 2000: marriage, motherhood, taking on academic challenges, and transforming into a coach.

In 2004, the happy mother and wife graduated from Guangzhou Sport University. "I was a multi-tasker at that time: Babysitting my kid, doing homework, and coaching young athletes," He recalled. "My time still wouldn't be enough." Challenging as it was, He knew she needed the knowledge to become a good coach.

As a coach, He considers her athletes as friends and cares about their ideas, which she thinks is important to them.

However, He has another dream that's yet to be realized: the hope of standing on an Olympic Games' podium. Though her competing days are over, she's hoping to make that dream come true as a coach.