10 Famous Athletes from China: The Greatest Chinese Athletes

If you are looking for the greatest Chinese athletes, you have come to the right place. This article is a compilation of the best athletes in China with outstanding international achievements. They all brought glory to the country.

The athletes on our list are all people who have contributed a lot to world sports. Read on for more of their achievements!

1. Yao Ming

  • Sport: Basketball
  • Born: 12/09/1980
Yao Ming

Yao Ming is the symbol and pride of the Chinese people for what he achieved during his peak career in basketball. He brought this sport closer to billions of people, becoming the most popular sport in this country.

Possessing great height and special skills, he has caught the eyes of many coaches in the US. In 2002 Yao Ming competed in the NBA Draft and was the first non-US national selected by the Houston Rockets for first place.

Yao Ming played for eight seasons in the NBA and retired after suffering many injuries. But the achievements he left behind made everyone admire him. After 486 games, he averaged 19 points and 9.3 rebounds.

2. Lin Dan

  • Sport: Tennis
  • Born: 14/101983
  • Retired: 4/07/2020
Lin Dan

Lin Dan is a pompous tennis player with a magical playing style. He is one of the greatest badminton players of all time. He twice won Olympic gold, World Championship, and the All-England Championship.

Lin Dan is the first and only person to complete all Super Grand Slams (9 titles in the badminton world):

  • Olympic
  • Badminton world champion
  • World Cup
  • Thomas Cup
  • All England Open
  • Super Series Masters Finals
  • Asian Championships
  • Asian Games.

Lin Dan also has the nickname “Super Dan.”

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3. Li Na

  • Sport: Badminton/Tenis
  • Born: 26/02/1982
  • Retired: 19/09/2014
Li Na

Li Na is the first and only Asian woman to win a Grand Slam when she lifts the 2011 French Open title.

Originally a badminton player, she started playing tennis at eight and has achieved high results in major Chinese tournaments.

In 2014, she repeated the feat at the Australian Open and thereby achieved a career peak at number two in the world. Before retiring, Li Na was ranked sixth on the WTA rankings.

Besides, she is the one who developed the sport and overcame China’s draconian regulations and dogmatism.

4. Yang Qian

  • Sport: Shooting
  • Born: 10/07/2000
Yang Qian

Yang Qian is the owner of the first Tokyo 2020 Olympic Gold Medal when setting a record in the women’s 10m air rifle event.

She soon showed a passion for shooting and joined Ningbo Sports School at 4. Her coach, Yu Linhua, also worked for the Chinese national team.

She is a third-year undergraduate student at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

5. Gu Ailing

  • Sport: Freestyle skiing
  • Born: 03/09/2003
Gu Ailing

After the victory at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Gu Ailing became the most-mentioned name on Chinese social networks.

Gu Ailing discovered her love for sports at a very young age and often skied on the slopes near Lake Tahoe in the US.

In 2019, just a few months after stepping on the podium to receive a medal at the World Championships, Ai Lang suddenly announced that he would switch to the Chinese team instead of the US.

In 2020, Gu Ailing won 2 gold medals in freestyle skiing at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, held in Switzerland.

On February 8, 2022, Gu Ailing won the Big air (aerobatics with a snowboard) at the 2022 Winter Olympics, taking place in Beijing.

6. Ma Long

  • Sport: Table tennis
  • Born: 20/10/1988
Ma Long

The world table tennis world calls Ma Long a “superman” because he flexibly manipulates hitting techniques and creates new trends in the attack.

He is the most successful male tennis player in the history of world table tennis when he is the first to win:

  • 2 Grand Slams
  • 2 World Cups (2012, 2015)
  • 3 consecutive world championships (2015, 2017, 2019)
  • Many other records in ITTF Grand Tour and continental tournaments.
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In total, Ma Long has won 25 gold medals of all kinds in singles, doubles, and team events at major tournaments.

Ma Long is also the player who has been ranked No. 1 in the world table tennis rankings for 64 months, including 34 consecutive months.

7. Zhang Yufei

  • Sport: Swimming
  • Born: 19/04/1998
Zhang Yufei

Attending the Olympics at the age of 23, Zhang Yufei is emerging as the new icon of Chinese swimming.

Zhang Yufei was born in 1998 and has been one of the great hopes of Chinese swimming at the 2020 Olympics.

On the final day of the women’s 100m butterfly at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, Zhang brought the first silver medal for the home country. She finished first in this qualifying round.

This fisherman shined at the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games with three gold medals in the 200 m butterfly and 400 m freestyle events.

8. Wang Shun

  • Sport: Swimming
  • Born: 11/02/1994
Wang Shun

The name Wang Shun is no longer strange in the Asian swimming village in particular and the world in general. With a muscular body and a bright smile, Wang Shun is always the focus of competition.

He also represented China in swimming at the 2012 Summer Olympics and won the men’s 200-meter individual bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games.

At the Tokyo Olympics 2020, after completing the 200m medley final with a record of 1 minute 55 seconds 00, Wang Shun excellently brought the Chinese sports team another gold medal.

This is also the third gold medal of the Chinese swimming team at the Tokyo Olympics.

9. Xiaojun Lu

  • Sport: Weightlifting
  • Born: 27/07/1984
Xiaojun Lu

Xiaojun Lu is a weightlifter from China. He has won five world championships and three Olympic titles.

37-year-old champion Xiaojun Lu has become the oldest athlete to win a 2021 Olympic gold medal in weightlifting after taking the throne in the men’s 81 kg category.

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Xiaojun Lu appeared with his signature shiny gold shoes, lifting 170kg in the jerk and 204 kg in the push, for a total of 374kg.

10. Gong Lijiao

  • Sport: Athletics
  • Born: 24/01/1989
Gong Lijiao

Gong Lijiao is a four-time Olympic athlete, the weightlifting champion at the Tokyo Olympics with a personal record of 20.58 m.

Her performance in the 2008 Olympics was one of her greatest accomplishments. In qualifying, she had a personal best of 19.46 meters (the highest accomplishment for a female athlete). Chinese pitchers have been around for a while.

In the years, she continuously brought China many admirable achievements.


How many Olympians are from China?

There are now 2793 Chinese athletes in the Olympic database. They have 1208 men and 1585 women, including all medal winners.

Who is the best Olympian in China?

Wu Minxia, a diving champion in China, holds the record for most Olympic medals won by a Chinese athlete with five golds at the games and seven overall.

Who is the oldest 2022 Olympian?

The oldest Olympian is Claudia Pechstein, who is in her fifties. When she competed in the women’s 3000m, she created two pieces of Olympic history.


The list above has compiled the top ten athletes from China. Each has made history with outstanding achievements in the country and the world.

Let us know if this list is missing the athlete you think is the most famous. For more articles about China, visit our website!