When I think of playing in the Olympic Games I begin to shake, it’s so exciting. Timing is everything in life and I feel so lucky to be born when I was, to be in the generation of golfers to be given this incredible opportunity to perform at an Olympic Games. That’s what I thought when the conversation started about golf returning to the Games some years ago.
The first time I heard about it I had a long way to go, I was 20 then and the Opening Ceremony in Rio takes place exactly on my 27th birthday – so it gave me a direction, something to aim for.
I’m really thrilled to meet all the other athletes. In golf we play our own game and keep ourselves to ourselves most of the time, we don’t get many chances to meet other athletes from such a wide range of sports. These are people you only see on TV.
My positive attitude to the Olympic Games is in part at least due to where I’m from. In China, there are really two types of sports: Olympic sports and the rest. This is something you can only really appreciate if you live or spend time in our country.
The recognition of golf was lower because it was not an Olympic sport. This is reflected in many ways. For example, in awards and prize ceremonies: When I won the major in 2012, I got the award for the best non-Olympic athlete for the year.
But now because golf is in the Olympics I would say next time if I want to be nominated for best female athlete for the year – period.
We – the sport of golf – are now on a new level, a different platform. There will be more people, demanding to see golf, more incentive for TV channels to show the game beyond the Golf Channel. That’s the power of the Olympics in China. We are starting to see golf everywhere and more people will see how good the game is and want to try it out.
I’m very aware that I represent China right now, I know a lot of the Chinese people are watching me, so I just want to prove to them that the Chinese can be good at golf and hopefully it will just inspire more people to start the game.
When we get to Rio I will be enormously proud both of myself but also for my country. Everyone knows China is not one of the strongest countries for golf right now, but if a Chinese golfer can win a gold medal at the Olympics, it will kick start something very big. The one thing everyone always says is that our population is huge, so once golf becomes really popular, the world needs to watch out… the Chinese are coming!