Wenyi (Jenny Chen) ’21: Once An Athlete Always An Athlete

Chen practicing shooting in Shanghai
Chen running in the United States
Chen fencing in China
Chen at the dorm, heading to dinner
Chen practicing shooting in Shanghai

Sports have always been an important part of Wenyi(Jenny) Chen’s (‘21) life. “I started
swimming at 5-year-old, then I turned to modern pentathlon at 11-year-old.”

Chen trained in China as a professional athlete for two and a half years before she came to the United States. She participated in eight sports: modern pentathlon (crossing country, swimming, fencing, shooting, horseback
riding), OP sailing (one-person sailing), volleyball, badminton, field hockey, lacrosse, roller skating, and soccer. According to Chen, modern pentathlon acquired its name from a French soldier’s experience at war time.

 Chen always has great passion for sports. “I love moving around,” Chen laughed, “My mom once suspected that I was hyperactive. I just can’t stand still at one place for more than five minutes.”
When Chen was young, she suffered from lung problems, so her mom sent her to swim to improve her health.

 “Training was tough,” Chen said, “We have to do weightlifting for shooting.” She also shared about her training
experience, “Shooting is combined with running. We run 800 meters then shoot. The hard thing is to
control your breath and accuracy.”

Chen was chosen to play modern pentathlon in a swimming competition when she was 11-year-old. “I was so happy.” She said.

Chen then trained and competed at Shanghai team for two years, and she stayed at the national team for half of a year.

Chen performed well in modern pentathlon, “My best performance at individual division was the 3rd place at Youth National when I was 12 or 13 years old, and I got 1st place in Two People Relay.”
However, her memory wasn’t fully filled with glory. The pre-requirement of joining the national team is to sign a four-year contract. Chen said, “It’s like getting a job. Your passport and ID are taken so that you can’t go anywhere. You got paid monthly depending on your performances. If you go against the coaches, they won’t pay you or treat you well.” She paused, “Your life isn’t yours anymore.”

Despite these drawbacks, Chen said she has no regrets. “It was special. I got to meet people from all ages. When I was younger, I thought that sport is a part of my life that I can never live without.” Chen said.

Now, although Chen stopped training in the national team, sports is still part of her life. As she said, “Sports spirits will always support me.”