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Wu Chuanyu

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameWu•Chuanyu
Used nameWu•Chuanyu
Nick/petnamesChinese Flying Fish
Name orderOriental
Original name吳•傳玉
Other namesGo Choanyick
Born21 August 1928 in Salatiga (INA)
Died28 October 1954 in Mount Sivukha, Krasnoyarsk Kray (RUS)
NOC People's Republic of China


Wu Chuanyu was the first athlete to represent the newly founded People’s Republic of China in the Olympics. Born in the former Dutch East-Indies into a family from China’s Fujian province, he set his first records while still in Indonesia. Wu represented the Overseas Chinese at the 7th National Games in Shanghai breaking the national record in the 100 m freestyle with a time of 1:03.3 min. At the 1948 London Olympics, he was eliminated in the heats.

In 1951, Wu Chuanyu took second place in the men’s 100m backstroke in the 3rd World Youth Festival Swimming Competition in East-Berlin, representing Indonesia. He did not return to Indonesia, settling in People’s Republic of China. For political reasons, the Chinese delegation arrived too late to compete in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Only Wu had a chance to participate in the heats of the 100m backstroke, but failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

After some training with a Russian coach, he won the 100 m backstroke at the 4th World Youth Festival in București in 1953. One year later, at the unofficial World Student Games in Budapest, Wu placed second in the same event setting another national record of 1:06.4 min in the 100 m butterfly. He then returned to China to attend the first meeting of the First National People’s Congress. Flying back to Budapest, where the rest of the team had remained in a trainings camp, Wu’s plane crashed on the way from Irkutsk to Novosibirsk. Due to adverse weather conditions, the flight was redirected to Krasnoyarsk, and negligence of the local ground staff and an error of the crew led to a misjudgement of the flight position. All six crew members and 13 passengers were killed when the plane crashed into the side of Mount Sivukha. In 1984, Wu was named “outstanding athlete since the founding of the People’s Republic of China” being the first athlete to have the People’s Republic of China’s flag raised and the anthem played at a major sporting event outside the motherland. He was inducted as Pioneer Swimmer into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2017.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1948 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) CHN Wu Chuanyu
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 5 h5 r1/3
1952 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) CHN Wu Chuanyu
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) DNS
100 metres Backstroke, Men (Olympic) 28

Special Notes