Shanghai is what China wants the world to see and by any standards it is simply breathtaking. What is more impressive? The soaring Pudong skyline seen from the Huangpu river Bund walkway and it’s backdrop of early 20th century buildings? Are the elevated highways, which stack 5 levels in height in certain areas like some giant snake in mid air across the city, what remain in mind? It is so impressive to see these super towers rising up in the air made of luxurious imported raw materials. You discover the neo classical design and style that is common to China’s more affluent areas. These things are but the tip of the iceberg, and all of which I have listed pertain only to the new buildings you can find in Shanghai. You simply can’t be prepared for China, no matter what you try. I believe a western foreigner arriving in China for the first time is an experience akin to the discovery of something so unexpected that it shakes the foundation of one’s perception. You are bombarded by completely new sights, sounds, smells, tastes, forget what you knew; you know have to learn again. You are witnessing the organized chaos of close to 1 billion and a half strong pushing forward with the plan that was laid by China’s post-revolution leaders; this is not something that can leave you indifferent. China gives us all a lesson in humility, this lesson cannot be learned from a distance, it must be witnessed. China teaches me something every day that I am here and inspires me. The Chinese development since the beginning of the 1980’s is in my opinion the greatest actual testament to the human spirit, a demonstration of what the world’s largest population has achieved in such a short time, by sticking to the visionary’s plan. There are no words that do justice to the feelings I have had here, overwhelmed, awe, resolve.

The first time I visited China was the end of August 2001 when Beijing hosted the World University Games. As an athlete, I tend to keep fond memories of the places where I delivered my greatest performances. As a Sabre fencer, these are the moments of my greatest battles. Munich, Rome, Valencia, New York, Winnipeg, Palm Springs where stage to my most glorious victories. Paris, Tenerife, Budapest, Athens, Seoul, although spectacular destinations are bitter memories of defeat. Ultimately, there was Beijing, China. In fact the world Universiade of 2001 was my last international competition. My result was disappointing but China left its mark on me. Frankly I never expected to return to China. Had that sentiment held true, from the current vantage point, I can affirm that I would have cut my life experience short of the most enriching challenge that I have yet undertaken. The reasons that brought me back to China are somewhat convoluted and the path that led me here was winding. I can’t say if it was my destiny I can’t claim to have that level of clarity yet, but there is something about me that I do know. Good or bad, I am one stubborn kid. It was once called obsessive by someone who does personality profiles, not obsessive compulsive, just obsessive. Once I believe in something and put my mind to it, there is only one thing that can possibly have a chance at stopping me: me.

Aquagold’s Chinese odyssey came out of the cloud of illusion the day I decided to make Shanghai mine and refused to accept the shortcomings of previous failed attempts at making our business work here. China made me realize that there was no cavalry coming and that if I wanted to do the impossible I could only rely on myself. Aquagold represents my dream and the most challenging objective that I have ever set out to accomplish. I can’t say if Aquagold reflects my personality but without a doubt everything of me is Aquagold. Aquagold is the ultimate obsession, my baby keeps me awake, pushes me to do my best and the days are too short to do all I can to live up to our dreams. She is alive; she is my wife and child, my best friend and worst enemy. Aquagold is the answer to so many of my existential questions. I guess this is what it feels like when you truly have found your calling, the real purpose that you were put together, the reason all the pieces fit together perfectly although so improbable. I can only guess that this is the case, since I don’t have enough time to seek out others and confirm. Nevertheless, China is a massive piece of the Aquagold puzzle of my life and I am the last person that would have ever thought that I would find the truth that I was seeking by immersing myself in a culture diametrically opposite to everything and anything that I had ever known, where upon entering the summer of life, I was asked to leave my bags at the door, because my language and culture would do me no good in the Middle Kingdom.

Advertisements