After winning gold medal in the 200 metre butterfly event at the London Olympics, fresh-faced Jiao Liuyang told state run China Daily that she was her own competitor.
When she walked into the Great Hall of the People in her army uniform for the 18th National Congress of the
Communist Party of China (CPC) as a delegate last week, Jiao, 21, of course wasn't competing with anyone; she was representing the People's Liberation Army (PLA) at the Congress. In fact, as the youngest delegate at the Congress, Jiao actually has no competition.
Focus on younger delegates has been a feature of this Congress.
As many as 2270 CPC delegates, on average 52 years of age, are currently taking part in the seven-day congress in Beijing.
"Before I joined the Party, I felt that Party membership was just a title. Now I feel that it is more about responsibility," she told state media. "In the past few months, I have taken every opportunity to learn what rank-and-file soldiers and officers and athletes are expecting from cultural and sports undertakings. I will make my own modest contribution to boosting the army's cultural and sports undertakings."
Though at 114, the number of delegates below 35 years account for only 5% of the total.
But that's likely to gradually change. Professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of CPC Lin Zhe told state media that these aforementioned young delegates are accomplished professionals who come with broad vision, flexible and quick minds and a relentless pioneering spirit.
But it's not that all young delegates have to be famous like Jiao to be part of the elite delegation.
At 31, Zhu Lijun, 31, is the youngest delegate of Beijing delegation. Zhu has worked as a safety guard at a public park for 13 years before becoming a delegate.
Aman, 33, a delegate from the Tibetan Autonomous Region, hasn't passed high school but became a delegate because of her reputation as a hardworking health care worker.
"The involvement of young delegates in politics marks a new era for the Party. Some of those accomplished young people will grow to become competent cadres and in the future may assume leadership positions, injecting fresh blood into the Party. This is a nice thing," Lin said.