Xu Guoyi, Coach Of Ye Shiwen & Xu Jiayu, Dies Of Brain Cancer

One of China’s most celebrated swimming coaches died today, as Xu Guoyi succumbed to brain cancer. The 50-year-old had most recently been the coach of 2012 Olympic champion Ye Shiwen and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Xu Jiayu.

Guoyi was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 2015. We reported at the time that Xu underwent surgery after doctors detected malignant glioma in his brain. Xu’s glioma was considered a grade IV, which is the most serious case of brain tumors.

Xu reportedly kept his illness from his swimmers, such as Ye Shiwen, heading into the 2016 Olympic Games.

The Chinese Swimming Association issued a statement thanking Xu for his extraordinary contributions to the country’s swimming success, “Coach Xu Guoyi has made significant contributions to the development of Chinese swimming. His success will be the ever-lasting monument of the country’s swimming industry.”

Xu once said, “My life is always about swimming. I love what I do and there is no way for me to stay away from the pool.” (CGTN)

Along with aforementioned Ye Shiwen and Xu Jiayu, Xu coached 2004’s women’s 100m breaststroke Olympic gold medalist Luo Xuejuan and two-time world champion Fu Yuanhui.

Xu Jiayu published a heartfelt letter to his coach on the Chinese app, Weibo, today:

“Dear coach, I remember all your expectations for me. When I won it again (men’s 100-meter backstroke gold) in Gwangju, you told me I should dream big because Tokyo is the stage for me. RIP, I promise I will bring that gold medal back home (from Tokyo) next summer for you. I will never forget what you did for me.

Ye Shiwen followed suit:

“I always thought one day a miracle would happen and bring you back to health and back to us. You brought me up, put me in that stage for top honor and was always there for every big moment in my life. You taught me how to stay strong, focus on what we do and never give up. You made every of us a better person. I know you won’t be there to protect me anymore but you will always be the beacon in my heart, guiding me through both light and darkness. Goodbye Daddy Xu, my love, respect and thoughts are always with you.

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1 year ago

While like many, I have my share of concerns about Chinese swimming, 50 from brain cancer is far too young and a far too painful way to go. May his memory be a blessing to his friends, family and athletes.

Reply to  beachmouse
1 year ago

Why pre-empt your condolences with bringing up concerns about Chinese swimming?

A beloved coach died. Let’s be bigger than bringing up suspicions of foreign nations at a time like this.

Lil Swimmy
1 year ago

So sad! Wishing his family and friends healing during this stressful time. <3

1 year ago

Sad news. RIP. Too young to die.

Ordinary Americans know very little about China, apart from propaganda served daily by CIA/CNN/NYT. Although cheating in sports was prevalent in socialist/communist countries, modern China is different from China 20-30 years ago. Modern China is a technological, economic and military superpower and wants to be respected that way. China knows they cannot be respected unless they follow international norms. China is fighting internal corruption as well as trying very hard to play by internartional rules in business and politics [let’s not talk about spying here – everybody spies on everybody]. Before coronavirus, I lived in China half year each of last 3 years, doing business. I never encountered anything inappropriate and illegal… Read more »

Reply to  PsychoDad
1 year ago

Well said. I don’t necessarily agree with your comments on many swimming topics, but am in full agreement with your narrative about China. I have been traveling to China (and many other countries) for business for over 25 years, and find my China trips most interesting and rewarding. Once you get to known the actual people personally and in depth, you’ll find they’re not that different from us. I look forward to my next trip to Asia when Americans are allowed.

1 year ago

Incredible sports figure. RIP

1 year ago

This was very sad to read. RIP to a great coach.

Jiaxin Zhang
1 year ago

you can’t use red! That’s stupid. If someone die in China, you can’t use red! That’s no respects!

Reply to  Jiaxin Zhang
1 year ago

This article was simply reporting his passing and summarized his success with some top Chinese swimmers he coached. I understand B&W colors would be more appropriate if this were an article specifically intended to pay tribute to his life. The contents of this article actually show respect for him. I for one appreciate and applaud Swimswam for bringing this sad news to the larger swimming community.

Jiaxin Zhang
1 year ago

That’s no respect! You can’t use red. In China, If someone die, you can’t use red!!! That’s no respect!!!!

Reply to  Jiaxin Zhang
1 year ago

I wish SwimSwam found a photo of him and his swimmers together, but you could have found a better way to explain that red color in China represents luck and happiness.

1 year ago

Sad story for one of the best Chinese trainers !! RIP

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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