Sun Zhencheng, a 10-year-old boy from Beijing, challenged crossing the Qiongzhou Strait by paddling a kayak on May 21st. He set out from Haizi Village, a coastal village in Guangdong Province at 06:55 in the morning, and paddled across the Qiongzhou Strait all alone in a kayak. He landed on the beach of Haikou Baishamen Park at 13:25. The whole journey took 6.5 hours, covering a distance of 30 kilometers. The weather was not friendly for paddling, with temperature at about 40 degrees centigrade at noon and sea waves raging as high as 70 centimeters. It was quite dangerous to paddle under such condition. Ten-year-old Sun Zhencheng overcame these formidable obstacles as well as his fear and exhaustion, accomplished the challenge, which makes him the youngest one to cross the Qiongzhou Strait by paddling a kayak, a new record for the sport.
Dreams started at a young age. When Sun was five years old, he heard about the story of Beiyang Fleet for the first time in his hometown, Yantai, Shandong, where the Museum of the Sino-Japanese War 1894-1895 is located. He was moved by the heroes' patriotic feat and burst into tears. Since then, a dream about the sea has rooted in the little boy's heart. He would devote his free time to various sports, especially kayaking. On May 21st, 2023, Sun Zhencheng, who is ten years old now, carefully put on his No. 17 outfit, which is named after his favourite "NAVY Shandong ", and launched the first strait-crossing challenge in his life. He chose the date May 21st, which has its Chinese pronunciation similar to “I love you”, hoping to express his reverence for patriotic soldiers and his immense love for motherland. Sun grows up in a family fond of sports. Deeply influenced by his grandma, a world-record holder, Sun loves sports very much. His school also puts high importance on physical education and won first place many times in youth basketball competition in Beijing. At school, Sun is active in basketball team. Thanks to the advanced physical education philosophy and diligent training, Sun has always maintained good physical fitness. Although physically and psychologically prepared, when facing the vast sea alone and heading against the wind and raging waves in a small kayak, Sun still felt immense fear, nervousness and stress. When his kayak was drawn towards the swirls of waves, the helplessness and desperation were beyond words. He is just a ten-year-old boy after all. Holding the paddle tightly in his hands, Sun kept paddling even though it seemed the kayak did not move forward at all. Fighting, fighting against the waves, that was what he have been learning the first day he started kayaking training. After long-time of paddling, he finally paddled the kayak forward, moving far from the swirls.
However, the real challenge was at the final landing stage as he had braved for 4 hours fighting against wind and sea waves and soaked with the seawater in the kayak. His hands blistered and there was eczema on his skin. He felt exhausted. The buildings across the sea were visible now, yet the distance seemed to him a journey beyond reach. The last 2 hours before landing was the hardest. With his hands and feet numb, Sun cried and shouted loudly to cheer himself on while paddling. Tears ran down his cheeks under the scorching sun and he just kept paddling. Fighting, paddling towards the right direction, that’s what he should do and what he did. A dragonfly from nowhere flied by and rested on his cap, seeming to encourage him. What a comfort it was! After physical and psychological adjustments, Sun Zhencheng finally landed. It was a new record and a marvelous feat.
With courage to face wind and waves all alone, with sober mind to make the right decision under unpredictable changes, and with willpower to overcome all kinds of obstacles, that is what Sun Zhencheng has experienced from this great adventure. That is the significance of challenge and the meaning of growth.
“If we are strong, China will be strong; if we are independent, China will be independent. If we are free, China will be free; if we are progressive, China will be progressive! " Today, the youth grow up in a great era and all potentials are ahead of them. As Children's Day coming, we wish Sun Zhencheng and all the young enjoy the time and all have a bright future.