Red Star

Mou Cong

China’s foremost female bodybuilder


Ready to hold up half the sky?

Mao Zedong famously espoused, “Women hold up half the sky”. But perhaps Mou Cong has the muscle to take on the burden all by herself. Earlier this month she became the first Chinese woman to win the Arnold Classic Amateur international bodybuilding championship.

Mou took the title for best figure and best physique in this year’s under 167cm category for women, besting 15 other competitors. The 32 year-old’s achievement also meant she became the first Chinese woman to be awarded membership of the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB).

Chinese dream

Mou began bodybuilding 10 years ago, and in 2012 won the women’s Asian Bodybuilding Championship in the category for women over 165cm. She has also undertaken three years of mixed martial arts training, making her a formidable nühanzi (a Chinese term for a woman of strong character).

Following her victory Mou had a few motivational words for her admirers: “Life has no dress rehearsal. If you have a dream, chase it, because realising your dreams is the purpose of life.”

Heavy lifting

Mou also predicted more Chinese women will join her on stage for bodybuilding championships in the years to come. She urged them, “Come out! Come and join the competition! There are actually so many exceptional bodybuilding athletes in our country.”

Last year, a number of female bodybuilders made a stir when the Hangzhou Sports Administration accepted female competitors for the first time in 10 years of running bodybuilding championships. Pictures of them spread online, but with the unflattering description “King Kong Barbies”.

The nickname surfaced again alongside stories of Mou’s victory, though generally netizens offered praise for her achievements. Posting a link to the story on its weibo feed, the People’s Daily even offered its congratulations to Mou for making history as a Chinese female bodybuilder.

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