“My name is Tan Zhendong, and I’m almost 12 years old. My dream is to go beyond China and be an international roller skater.” A little boy he is, though, Tan bears lofty ambitions.
Tan became attached to roller skating at the age of four. He had won two national championships by the time he was seven, was invited to CCTV’s program at nine, and was awarded the title of “2022 Outstanding Teenager in Chongqing for the New Era” at the age of 12. He is Tan Zhendong, a student in the sixth grade at a Chongqing Primary School.
Recently, he became popular on the Internet with his roller skating “stunts.” People who watched his video clips have acclaimed him as a god-blessed skater. What is unknown to all, his achievement is attributed partly to raw talent and mainly to his family’s great efforts.
“Dongdong, do you want to try ‘roller skating’?”
The casual talk in November 2015 initiated by his father, Tan Junqi, foreboded the destined relationship between Tan Zhendong and roller skating. With the “yes” as a start, Tan Zhendong, who was just over four years old, began roller skating training 2 hours a day.
It took only half a year for him to become a gold medalist in a small-sized roller skating competition in Chongqing from one that had just begun to learn how to put on roller skates, handguards, and helmets.
Many people acclaim Tan Zhendong as a gifted boy, but only he knows how much pain he had to suffer during practice. He had to clench his teeth, stand up, and go on because he liked it.
Tan Zhendong still recalled that he would force himself to do more one-foot spinning when he felt dizzy already. He can do hundreds of spins with repeated practice while keeping a standard posture.
“Other fellow trainees take lessons once a week, but I attend the class daily.” Tan Zhendong said the first medal he won for roller skating taught him that ‘there are no shortcuts to success.’
Tan Zhendong faced heavier tasks after he became a primary school student. He went straight to the training ground after school and trained for two or three hours daily. During holidays, he trained himself like a nine-to-five office worker. He would never want to rest, even on rainy days or in harsh weather.
Whenever he encountered a bottleneck, he would follow the coach’s advice and also break the movement down into several parts in his mind, even before falling asleep. The next day, he would practice it one by one thousand times and combine them all. Practice makes perfect. The 12-year-old Tan Zhendong has already understood that: he is becoming a better version of himself every time he falls and gets up. Pain is his source of strength, and scars mark the road to success.
“I think roller skating is enjoyable, yet more than that, it has taught me to persevere and defy difficulties.” Thanks to all the endeavors and gains, Tan Zhendong secured second place in slalom in the Junior Group C and first place in roller dance in the finals of the 2019 China Freestyle Roller Skating Competition held in Bird’s Nest. He was the runner-up in slalom in the 2020 National Roller Skating Student Championships. He has also won the title of ‘2022 Outstanding Teenager in Chongqing for the New Era.’
No pain, no gain. With persistence, Tan Zhendong is trying to improve and will scale new heights.
Talking about dreams, Tan Zhendong replied firmly: “My dream now is still consistent with my goal when I started to learn roller skating. On behalf of China, I will compete across Asia and the world!”
His father, Tan Junqi, rated the honor Tan Zhendong acquired as ‘quite satisfactory.’ His talk, however, betrayed how he was proud of his son.
For many people, Tan Zhendong is a gifted child. Tan Junqi disagreed: “He works very hard.”
Tan Junqi recalled that Tan Zhendong was very self-disciplined and would train himself at least 2 hours every day in any weather – hot days up to 40℃, cold winter days, windy days, and rainy days. During the winter and summer vacations, he would spend a whole day on the training ground.
“If he is not counted as hard-working, then who can?” Tan Junqi said. Success requires excellent efforts by the child, accompanied, and parental guidance.
“He encountered a bottleneck in 2018 and wanted to give up training, as I can recall. I had a photo of him winning the championship printed on a piece of clothes and gave it to him as a gift. The boy was very happy, which motivated him for training.” Tan Junqi said that education should be ‘gentle’ and ‘strict’ at the same time. Children should be encouraged to choose what they like. In case of difficulties, parents should use the ‘gentle’ way to help them, which is better than coercion. Parents’ gentle guidance incorporates a ‘strict’ attitude to tell the children to overcome hardships and persevere.
Also, parents’ accompany is an important condition for a child’s success, in Tan Junqi’s opinion. “I still send him to school now. It’s not that I can’t let go, but I’m looking for opportunities to chat with him. It helps to facilitate the parent-child communication.” Tan Junqi said there was little time for such talk because Tan Zhendong had to do homework and roller skating training after school. As a good companion, the father soon figured out how the son was doing in study and life and would provide guidance and ask him to correct it immediately if necessary.
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