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The fascinating autobiography from Asia's first ever dinghy sailing gold medallist. Learning to sail and becoming a full-time athlete at just 10 years old, Lijia Xu was taken away from her parents and enrolled on the gruelling Chinese training regime, a programme meticulously prescribed across all sporting disciplines to catapult the nation's talented youngsters to international champions. A rare insight into a shocking world of relentless physical training and unquestioning mental compliance, Lijia's honest and heart-felt account takes you on her journey from physical disabilities and debilitating injuries to learning to think for herself, eventually going on to achieve her dream of becoming an Olympic gold medallist. This is an inspirational story of a young woman's will to succeed despite all that her background threw at her.
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Table of Contents

Foreword; Prologue; Chapter 1: Golden Lily; Chapter 2: My Family; Chapter 3: Becoming a Sportswoman; Chapter 4: Training to be a Professional; Chapter 5: My Optimist Years; Chapter 6: My Time in the Europe Class; Chapter 7: Studying English; Chapter 8: Learning from Others; Chapter 9: Getting to Grips with the Laser Radial; Chapter 10: My First Olympics & the Build Up; Chapter 11: A Slow Recovery; Chapter 12: Finally Teaming Up with Jon Emmett; Chapter 13: The Cracks Begin to Show; Chapter 14: Getting Better... Then Worse; Chapter 15: The Final Road to Weymouth; Chapter 16: Olympic Glory; Chapter 17: Heat after London; Chapter 18: Thoughts about China; Chapter 19: My Puppy Love; Chapter 20: A New Path; Chapter 21: Acknowledge the Cultural Differences; Achievements; Bibliography


About the Author

Lijia Xu was born in Shanghai in 1987. Her sports career started at the age of 5 when she was accepted by the Changning District Swimming Team. Lijia's interest in sailing began in 1997 after being approached by the Shanghai Optimist Sailing Coach. From the age of 10 Lijia travelled all year round to sail and train; becoming a full-time sailor shortly after her 10th birthday.Her first National Championship was in the Optimist class, held in Hong Kong in 1998, which she won. In her final two years in this class Lijia won the National, Asia and World Championships, along with the National and Asian Games.On graduating from the Optimist class Lijia spent two years sailing the Europe class before moving on to the Laser Radial, which has been the Olympic single-handed dinghy for women since 2008.In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Lijia was awarded the bronze medal. Despite a number of setbacks, including serious injuries, Lijia went on to achieve the Olympic gold medal in single-handed dinghy sailing at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Not only a huge personal achievement, this also catapulted Lijia to become Asia's first ever dinghy sailing gold medallist.Through much of her time racing a Laser Radial Lijia has been coach by Jon Emmett, a well-respected coach and successful sailor in his own right.Notable accolades have been awarded to Lijia including the 2012 Rolex World Sailor of the Year award, and becoming a Team SCA Ambassador of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.


"Lijia Xu is a true sailing champion... an inspiration for sailors, particularly female sailors, around the world. But, as this fascinating autobiography reveals, there is far more to Lily than the medals she has won... Lily was the first ever Asian dinghy gold medallist. To achieve this, she had to supplement the Chinese emphasis on relentless training with help from outside China to really hone her sailing skills. On top of this, she has to overcome inherited physical frailties and career threatening injuries. Golden Lily is an enthralling account of Lily's life, whilst also being a fascinating eye-opener into the Chinese sports 'machine', where people like Lily become professional sportspeople at the age of 10, shedding light on the reality of growing up as a state sponsored child athlete... I have nothing but respect for Lily. I commend this book to anyone interested in sailing, sport or the differences between east and west." (Sir Ben Ainslie); 'I was totally fascinated by Lijia Xu's story. It is quite remarkable that she was able to overcome the rigid demands of the Chinese authorities and obtain a European coach. What she has achieved is therefore all the more remarkable.' (Bob Fisher); 'Gain an insight to what makes a gold medallist tick.' (Yachts & Yachting); 'The book is a gold mine of information for a person looking to improve in any sport or in life in general. Without all the tips, the book is still a 'must read' just for the story. Everyone I met who has read the book has been amazed. I guarantee that once you start to read you will not be able to put the book down.' (Laser World); 'Astonishing honesty about her struggle to succeed in sailing ... Lily very much had to design her own path to success, something practically impossible in a culture which values unquestioning obedience to elders and those of higher status. How could she possibly overcome these insurmountable barriers? Read her book to find out.' (Yachting Life).

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