The Most Famous

ATHLETES from China

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This page contains a list of the greatest Chinese Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 6,025 Athletes, 120 of which were born in China. This makes China the birth place of the 8th most number of Athletes behind Sweden, and Italy.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Chinese Athletes of all time. This list of famous Chinese Athletes is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Chinese Athletes.

Photo of Eric Liddell

1. Eric Liddell (1902 - 1945)

With an HPI of 54.35, Eric Liddell is the most famous Chinese Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages on wikipedia.

Eric Henry Liddell (; 16 January 1902 – 21 February 1945) was a Scottish sprinter, rugby player and Christian missionary. Born in Qing China to Scottish missionary parents, he attended boarding school near London, spending time when possible with his family in Edinburgh, and afterwards attended the University of Edinburgh. At the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, Liddell refused to run in the heats for his favoured 100 metres because they were held on a Sunday. Instead he competed in the 400 metres held on a weekday, a race that he won. He returned to China in 1925 and served as a missionary teacher. Aside from two furloughs in Scotland, he remained in China until his death in a Japanese civilian internment camp in 1945. Liddell's Olympic training and racing, and the religious convictions that influenced him, are depicted in the Oscar-winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire, in which he is portrayed by fellow Scot and University of Edinburgh alumnus Ian Charleson.

Photo of Karen Lachmann

2. Karen Lachmann (1916 - 1962)

With an HPI of 47.39, Karen Lachmann is the 2nd most famous Chinese Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Karen Vilhelmine Lachmann (30 May 1916 – 30 September 1962) was a Danish foil fencer. She won a silver medal in the women's individual foil event at the 1948 Summer Olympics and a bronze in the same event at the 1952 Summer Olympics.

Photo of Liu Xiang

3. Liu Xiang (b. 1983)

With an HPI of 45.36, Liu Xiang is the 3rd most famous Chinese Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.

Liu Xiang (simplified Chinese: 刘翔; traditional Chinese: 劉翔; pinyin: Liú Xiáng; born July 13, 1983) is a Chinese former 110 meter hurdler. Liu is an Olympic Gold medalist and World Champion. His 2004 Olympic gold medal was the first in a men's track and field event for China. Liu is one of China's most successful athletes and has emerged as a cultural icon. On top of being the only male athlete in history to be all of 110-metre hurdles World Record Holder, World Champion and Olympic Champion—Liu remains the Olympic record holder for the men's 110-metre hurdles with a time of 12.91 seconds he set back at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He was the favorite to win another gold in the 110 metre hurdles at the Beijing Olympics, but he had to withdraw from competition at the last moment after a false start and aggravation to a previously unrevealed injury. Again a gold medal favourite in the 110 metre hurdles at the London Olympics he pulled his Achilles tendon attempting to clear the first hurdle in the heats. On April 7, 2015, he announced his retirement on Sina Weibo.

Photo of Wang Junxia

4. Wang Junxia (b. 1973)

With an HPI of 45.15, Wang Junxia is the 4th most famous Chinese Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 29 different languages.

Wang Junxia (simplified Chinese: 王军霞; traditional Chinese: 王軍霞; pinyin: Wáng Jūnxiá; born 19 January 1973) is a Chinese former long-distance runner who is the current world record holder at 3,000 meters. She also held the world record for the 10,000 meters for 23 years, between 1993 and 2016. Her best years lay between 1991 and 1996. Wang was coached by Ma Junren until 1995 and by Mao Dezhen from 1995 to her retirement after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Photo of Zhu Jianhua

5. Zhu Jianhua (b. 1963)

With an HPI of 44.95, Zhu Jianhua is the 5th most famous Chinese Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Zhu Jianhua (simplified Chinese: 朱建华; traditional Chinese: 朱建華; pinyin: Zhū Jiànhuá; born 29 May 1963) is a retired Chinese high jumper. His personal best of 2.39 metres is a former world record for the event, and is still the Chinese record. In Helsinki 1983, Zhu became China's first man to win a medal in the IAAF World Championships. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, he became the first male from the People's Republic of China to win an athletics medal in the history of the Olympic Games (Yang Chuan-kwang won a silver medal representing the Republic of China in the 1960 Rome Olympics). He is a two-time gold medallist at both the Asian Games and the Asian Athletics Championships.

Photo of Guo Jingjing

6. Guo Jingjing (b. 1981)

With an HPI of 39.83, Guo Jingjing is the 6th most famous Chinese Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Guo Jingjing (Chinese: 郭晶晶; pinyin: Guō Jīngjīng; born October 15, 1981, in Baoding, Hebei) is a retired Chinese diver, and multi-time Olympic gold medalist and world champion. Guo is tied with her partner Wu Minxia for winning the most Olympic medals (6) of any female diver and she won the 3m springboard event at five consecutive World Championships. She announced her retirement in 2011.

Photo of Wang Yifu

7. Wang Yifu (b. 1960)

With an HPI of 39.33, Wang Yifu is the 7th most famous Chinese Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Wang Yifu (simplified Chinese: 王义夫; traditional Chinese: 王義夫; pinyin: Wáng Yìfū, born December 4, 1960, in Liaoyang, Liaoning) is a male Chinese pistol shooter, and in terms of Olympic medals one of the most successful sport shooters of all times, and was the first shooter with six individual Olympic medals. He specializes in the 50 m Pistol and 10 m Air Pistol events. He is the only shooter to have won two gold medals in men's 10 metre air pistol. Wang won his first Olympic medal in the Los Angeles games at the age of 23. After this, the Air Pistol event was added to the program, and this is where he has achieved his greatest accomplishments. He won the 1992 gold medal only days after a new medal in the 50 m event. His three attempts to repeat the victory have provided impressive results and very tight duels: In 1996, Wang had a two-point pre-final lead over Roberto Di Donna (Italy), and seemed to be the clear winner until in the last shot he got only 6.5 (at a level where anything below 9.0 is considered a very bad shot), and lost the gold medal by the closest possible margin, 0.1 point. Related to this was a collapse due to medical issues coupled with the extreme heat in Atlanta that day. In 2000, both Wang and Franck Dumoulin (France) scored 590 points and tied for a new Olympic record. Wang lost by two points in the final. In the 2004 competition, Wang scored 590 once more, but lost the Olympic record to Mikhail Nestruev (Russia) who achieved 591. However, the Chinese managed to erase the small gap and eventually won by a margin of 0.2 points to get his second Olympic gold. Also in the ISSF World Shooting Championships, Wang has won both 50 m Pistol (in 1994) and 10 m Air Pistol (in 1998). Wang Yifu is married to sport shooter Zhang Qiuping.

Photo of Qu Yunxia

8. Qu Yunxia (b. 1972)

With an HPI of 38.60, Qu Yunxia is the 8th most famous Chinese Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Qu Yunxia (simplified Chinese: 曲云霞; traditional Chinese: 曲雲霞; pinyin: Qǔ Yúnxiá; born 25 December 1972) is a Chinese Olympic athlete who specialised in the 1500 metres. At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, she won a bronze medal in 1500 m. On 11 September 1993, she set the world record in the 1,500 metres at 3:50.46 minutes while running in the National Games of China in Beijing. The record stood 22 years, until broken on 17 July 2015, by Genzebe Dibaba who was the only non-Chinese athlete to seriously challenge the mark during that period. She won the 3000 metres at the 1993 World Championships in Athletics, setting what will likely be the permanent Championship Record in the event due to women switching to the 5,000 metres distance beginning in 1995.

Photo of Huang Zhihong

9. Huang Zhihong (b. 1965)

With an HPI of 38.17, Huang Zhihong is the 9th most famous Chinese Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Huang Zhihong (simplified Chinese: 黄志红; traditional Chinese: 黃志紅; pinyin: Huáng Zhìhóng); born May 7, 1965, in Lanxi, Jinhua, Zhejiang) is a former shot put athlete from China. An Olympic silver medallist and a double world champion, she was in fact the first Asian to win a world championship in athletics. Her personal best throw is 21.52, achieved in Beijing 1990.

Photo of Yi Siling

10. Yi Siling (b. 1989)

With an HPI of 37.57, Yi Siling is the 10th most famous Chinese Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Yi Siling (Chinese: 易思玲; pinyin: Yì Sīlíng; born May 6, 1989, in Guiyang, Hunan) is a Chinese female sport shooter specializing in 10 meter air rifle events, she is the gold medalists for 2012 Olympics, 2010 World Championships and 2010 Asian Games. Yi started shooting in 2007 and made her international debut in 2009. In 2010, she won the World Championships at the 10m air rifle and became the first person to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics. At the Olympics, she captured the first gold medal of the games by winning the 10 m air rifle event.

People

Pantheon has 346 people classified as Chinese athletes born between 1902 and 2007. Of these 346, 343 (99.13%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Chinese athletes include Liu Xiang, Wang Junxia, and Zhu Jianhua. The most famous deceased Chinese athletes include Eric Liddell, Karen Lachmann, and Li Lingjuan. As of April 2024, 226 new Chinese athletes have been added to Pantheon including Sui Xinmei, Zhou Jihong, and Li Lingjuan.

Living Chinese Athletes

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Deceased Chinese Athletes

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Newly Added Chinese Athletes (2024)

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