Monday, August 11, 2008

Lin Hao and Yao Ming

Some readers expressed interest in knowing more about the small boy, Lin Hao, who paraded with the giant Yao Ming , flagbearer of the China team in the Olympics opening ceremony. In fact I myself was very fond of that cute boy's smartness. There is the story that, at one point during the march, Yao Ming, the tallest athlete in the Chinese team, bent down to tell the boy, "You must eat more, so you can grow tall like me." The boy, surprised by the advice, replied, "I am going to Tsinghua University!"

The tallness of Yao Ming and smallness of Lin Hao indeed provided a delightful contrast, which was exactly Zhang Yimou's intention. Sichuan recommended several children heroes from the earthquake, and Zhang Yimou picked the smallest – and apparently a very smart – boy. The boy was supposed to join the rehearsals during August 1 –5, but somehow arrived at Beijing too late and missed them. So he just walked in for the opening ceremony without any practice, and I have to say his natural, relaxed manner really touched me.

Apparently, there had been a bit of miscommunication between Zhang Yimou and the march-in coordinator who refused to let the little boy in. Zhang Yimou had to have the co-director of the performance to go to the gate and "drag in" Lin Hao.

When the earthquake occurred in May, Lin Hao was a student in a school in one of the most damaged towns – Yingxiu. After the boy escaped from the collapsed classroom building, he went back to rescue two classmates and endured a head wound. In the march-in, the hairless spot on his head was very visible. When interviewers asked what motivated his bravery, Lin Hao said, "I'm the class leader. One can't be a class leader without classmates." Among thirty-plus of his classmates, about ten survived the earthquake, including the two rescued by him.

According to reports, Lin Hao was elected the class leader because his grades were always on top. It looks like the boy does have the chance to fulfill his wish to go to China's best science and engineering school – Tsinghua University.

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