10 Feb 2024

The extraordinary comeback of China's skydivers

Back in 2019, the Chinese national skydiving team took the 14th FAI World Cup of Freefall Style & Accuracy Landing in Cordoba, Argentina by storm. They became Team Accuracy Landing champions in both the male and female categories. The women’s team made in particular made an outstanding performance, sweeping all top six places in Landing and Accuracy Overall.

And then, Covid struck. The Chinese team were unable to participate in both the Tanay Mondial in Russia, in 2021, and at the 37th FAI World Freefall Style & Accuracy Landing Championships 2022, Strakonice, Czech Republic, in 2022. Yet 2023’s 15th FAI World Cup of Style and Accuracy Landing, Ravenna, Italy saw the team back with a bang…

The women's team soared straight to the top and snared the gold; the men’s team took bronze overall. Individually, in overall Style and Accuracy, the women's podium was dominated by this outstanding team, with their colleagues representing another four within the top ten.

China female skydivers

There are some athletes (eg. Tiantian Zhao, Ruilong Yu, Yaping Xing, Ling Zhang) who saw success in 2019 and again in 2023 alongside some new names. And the seniors’ success was mirrored by their junior counterparts in both 2019 and 2023, evidencing a significant ongoing focus on skydiving in China. Indeed, many of the juniors also placed highly in the senior category, so it seems that the team is likely to dominate the podium into the future.

Wang Yongli, who has been integral to the team’s development (although has recently retired), kindly took some time to share the team’s perspective on the last few years of ups and downs.

It was great to see Team China back in the competition this year. Did you manage to keep up with training during Covid or was it difficult?
Over the past three years, just like in other countries, we went through a hard time. Our life, work and travelling were greatly affected. However, the national team of China found a way to keep on training, even in the most difficult times.

Are you pleased with the 2023 results, and why do you think the team was so successful?
The reason that the team of China gained satisfying and outstanding achievements in Italy is due to having managed to continue both the skydiving training and domestic events even in the past three years. The event in Italy was truly well organised.

China skydiving 2023

The female team gave an exceptional performance, becoming team accuracy champions once again in 2023 after taking gold in 2019. Team China has a high number of female participants, what helps to give them such success?
Our female team is an excellent team, and we have very experienced and devoted coaches who have a lot of experience working in skydiving. With many years of coaching on the front line, they have a very professional understanding of the development and technical approach to the sport, as well as very clear goals and the training program and plans to help achieve them.

China Skydiving 2023

The younger skydivers also performed well. Is there a special programme in China to encourage younger participants into skydiving?
We have a system and guidelines for the selection and training of skydiving competitors. In China, there are several aero sports schools and clubs available for young skydivers to do fun jumps and test training, during which the coaches might find youngsters with good potential. Skydiving training and salaries will be offered to such youngsters if they choose this career.

China Skydiving 2023

What is the general skydiving scene like in China at the moment?
The team of China has some excellent skydivers, and there are some exceptional  junior skydivers as well. This means that skydiving in China is developing well. There are many clubs for amateurs besides the professional skydivers in aero sports schools. Both kinds of skydivers can have fun and complete their goals in skydiving.

China Skydiving 2023

For skydivers who have not yet been to China, what are the best spots for skydiving in your country?
We welcome skydivers all over the world to come and enjoy the beautiful sight-seeing in China. We have national events every year and we are also looking for opportunities to cooperate with FAI to hold international events. We also recommend skydivers all around world to contact us before they come to China to get advice. We would like to help all the skydivers to have the greatest skydiving experience and memories in China.

FAI and the FAI Skydiving Commission (ISC) looks forward to seeing the Chinese team continue to push skydiving forward into 2024, the Year of the Dragon!

Chinese skydiving team 2023 Ravenna

Our thanks to Niu Wen from Aero Sport Federation of China (ASFC) for the translation of Wang Yongli's responses.
Photographer credit: Alessandra Cirillli