Luo Wenao

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameLuo•Wenao
Used nameLuo•Wenao
Name orderOriental
Original name樓•文敖
Other namesLau Wen Ngau
Born1919 in Shanghai, Shanghai (CHN)
Diedin ? (USA)
NOC People's Republic of China


Lou Wenao was born into a family from Zhejiang Province. After suffering from typhoid, he became deaf and dumb at the age of three. In 1943, he was attracted to long distance running. After a period of hard training, Lou broke the national 10,000 m record twice at meetings in Nanjing and Shanghai in 1947. In early 1948, Lou had his first successful appearance in the United States, winning 5 and 10 km, as well as 10 mile races in California.

In May 1948, at the 7th National Games held in Shanghai, Lou took the title in the 5,000 m with yet another national record of 16:08.0. A few days later, he clocked 32:37.0 clinching the 10,000 m and breaking the Asian record and subsequently, he further improved his PB. This earned him a place on the Chinese team for the 1948 London Olympics. Unaccustomed to wearing spikes, Lou was injured by a spike piercing the sole of his foot in 10,000 m race. Nevertheless, he participated in the heat of the 5000 m, but failed to qualify. Although he never trained for a marathon, he was entered into the Olympic race and was second at the 20 km mark, but when his foot started to bleed, he fainted and had to be carried to an ambulance.

Later that year, together with his tutor Wang Zhenglin Lou took part in long distance runs and marathons in the US. They both went back to China where the People’s Liberation Army had just taken control. In 1950, he returned to the United States under a temporary residence permit, resuming his running career at the University of Southern California. During the next years, he won some prestigious races including the Western Hemisphere Marathon at Culver City and the four-mile Golden State Championship Run at UCLA. In 1954, he had to terminate his athletic career due to a foot injury. During this time, he worked as an assistant cook in a local restaurant.

When Lou’s temporary permit expired in 1955 he was to be deported back to China. Because he had appeared in pro-American broadcasts by the “Voice of America”, he anticipated prosecution in his homeland. His coach, employer and other friends tried to obtain a permanent resident status for Lou. When he had already boarded a boat to China, the Department of Immigration granted him permission to stay permanently, not least based on testimonies by the staff of the “Voice of America”.

Personal Bests: 5000 – 16:00.8 (1948); 10000 – 32:37.0 (1948); Mar – unknown.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1948 Summer Olympics Athletics CHN Luo Wenao
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 8 h2 r1/2
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) TNK
Marathon, Men (Olympic) DNF

Special Notes