Two years ago, when students went pass YiFu Hall or Tsinghua’s Library, they noticed a sea of blue towards the Northwestern area of the Tsinghua campus. This blue echoes the color of the sky and adds much vitality to the scenery. That newly renovated runway and that red gymnasium at the west end of Tsinghua is in fact the first gymnasium of Tsinghua University.
The West End Gymnasium is one of the four earliest buildings in Tsinghua. It was divided into two parts: the front and the back. The area at the front was built in 1916~1919 and was designed by Murphy. It was constructed in the western classical form with ceramic colonnade right at the front of the building. The area at the back was built more than 10 years later. However, there are no clear distinctions between the two. It was a perfect match in style and design.
Tsinghua University attaches great importance to sports. The West End Gymnasium has a unique position in its sports history. Tsinghua started with regular physical education right at the same time when the building was being first constructed. Right up to the 1980s, it remained the place for indoor sports activities. Many proud achievements were made by the teachers and students. The gymnasium was the gathering place for countless athletes and sport stars- Ma Yuehan, Cao Linsheng, Li Jianqiu and more taught at the gymnasium and athletes such as Sun Liren, Deng Jianfei and Luo Qinglong were all once Tsinghua students. In 1958, Tsinghua became one of the first universities to achieve the national “Physical Fitness standards”.
In addition to being Tsinghua’s sporting cradle, the quiet gymnasium is also a very historical place. It has witnessed many historical events.
In 1919, the anti-imperialist “May Fourth” movement broke out in Beijing. The following day, the whole university held a general assembly in front of the gymnasium. Slogans were chanted, views were exchanged and it was the place when they decided to go on strike on the 6th of May. On the 9th of May, a National Humiliation Memorial was held vowing to “make sacrifices so that we could protect the people, the motherland and the sovereignty of China.” In December 1935, the December 9th Movement erupted and saw much petitioning and participation from Tsinghua students. The following year, Tsinghua people fought bravely against the KMT police at the site of the West End Gymnasium. During the Anti-Japanese War, the gymnasium was destroyed by the Japanese army and was only restored after 1949.
The gymnasium said hello and goodbye to generations of Tsinghua students. Her simple red brick wall was, is and always will be the cradle for Tsinghua’s sporting spirit. She has witnessed much history, Tsinghua spirit and acts of patriotism. She is an integral part of Tsinghua University.