Framework

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Jicheng Qian lifts weights under the watchful eye of Suqing Lin during a brief workout at Muscle Beach in Venice. Qian, 42, a former bodybuilding champ and coach for China’s national team, heads an Alhambra-based group "aiming to show the world a new image of the Chinese people."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Jicheng Qian, center, and Suqing Lin walk along Venice Beach as they tour the local gyms before heding to a weightlifting competition in Ohio. At 17, Qian watched "Rambo" and "The Terminator." At 23, he decided to bulk up his 5-foot-6 frame. Now retired from competition, he lives in Alhambra, his apartment serving as headquarters for the World Assn. of Chinese Bodybuilding.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Suqing Lin, left, and Jicheng Qian converse next to Jon Griffiths as they await the lightweight bodybuilding competition at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. Lin, 39, was one of three Chinese bodybuilders being mentored by Qian.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Thomas / For The Times

Suqing Lin, right, stands in front of his competitors in the lightweight division at the Arnold Sports Festival. Anxious about his international debut, Lin had bought a mini-rice-cooker for his pre-competition diet of rice and dozens of hard-boiled eggs.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Thomas / For The Times

Suqing Lin, right, takes a moment to himself as Jose Carlos Sousa Santos applies tanning oil and Scorpion Sebastian Garcia has a drink after the lightweight bodybuilding competition at the Arnold Sports Festival. Lin placed just one spot short of making the finals.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Thomas / For The Times

Caleb Sun, left, waits backstage with fellow bodybuilder Arnaldo Libert before it's their turn to pose and flex in the light middleweight competition at the Arnold Sports Festival. For three months leading up to the event, the 32-year-old Sun, another of Jicheng Qian's proteges, focused full time on chiseling away his body fat: two cardio sessions, three hours of lifting, six portioned meals and multiple recovery naps each day.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Thomas / For The Times

Caleb Sun show his stuff. “I love that when we walk down the street, men don’t look at me, they look at him,” said his wife, Lori. “He works so hard for it, I’m glad people notice. In China, especially, people always ask me if they can touch him.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Thomas / For The Times

Max Yu beholds himself in the mirror after competing in the light middleweight division at the Arnold Sports Festival. Yu, 38, was another of the Chinese bodybuilders being mentored by Jicheng Qian, whose modest Alhambra apartment serves as headquarters for the World Assn. of Chinese Bodybuilding.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Thomas / For The Times

Jincheng Qian takes photos of the super heavyweight competition at the Arnold Sports Festival. He's surrounded by George Tinwick, left, Rashid Alriyami, Essa Obaid, Scott Galea and a cheering Kellen Oldham. "I want Chinese [bodybuilders] to realize their dreams,” he says. “I understand their passions, their goals. Why not help others get to where I’ve gotten — and beyond?"

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Thomas / For The Times

Jicheng Qian takes a photo of Suqing Lin, left, and Caleb Sun in front of the recently unveiled statue of bodybuilding legend (and former California governor) Arnold Schwarzenegger, the namesake of the Arnold Sports Festival.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Thomas / For The Times

Jicheng Qian checks out a photograph of Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of many he hoped he would take of his idol. Walking through the more than 700 booths at the Arnold Fitness Expo, Qian said that one day he hoped to bring similar expositions to China.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Thomas / For The Times

Lori Sun playfully reaches out to grab the Thurmanator meant for her husband, Caleb, who was celebrating at the Thurman Cafe in Columbus, Ohio, after the bodybuilding competition at the Arnold Sports Festival. The hamburger consisted of two 12-ounce patties and all the fixings. After months of strict dietary restrictions, Sun was ready to push calorie considerations aside.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bryan Thomas / For The Times

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Chinese bodybuilders bulking up their image

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Chinese bodybuilders bulking up their image

As a 17-year-old, Jicheng Qian watched “Rambo” and “The Terminator” onscreen. At 23, he gave up his job in mechanical engineering to focus on making his 5-foot-6 body stronger. For much of the next two decades, he lived and trained in San Ya — China’s popular beach destination. Now 42 and retired from competition, Qian lives in Alhambra, his modest apartment serving as headquarters for the World Assn. of Chinese Bodybuilding. Its mission statement reflects his commitment: “We are aiming to show the world a new image of the Chinese people.”

 See Rosanna Xia’s story, “Chinese bodybuilders make the most of flex time”

2 Comments

  1. December 29, 2012, 4:09 am

    well article written and thanks

  2. March 5, 2013, 12:55 am

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