Tibetan exiles are out to support what is believed to be the first Tibetan athlete to compete in the Olympics. The Chinese are supporting her, too.
That's because Qieyang Shenjie was born in Qinghai, a province of China that is also on the Tibetan plateau and part of the region that Tibetan exiles consider to be Tibet.
For Tibetans, it's essentially the first time they've had a sports figure to cheer for at an internatinal event, even though she represents the country they regard as their occupier.
On Constitution Hill, next to Queen Elizabeth II's gardens behind Buckinham Palace, they have hung a banner using her Tibetan name: "You go, girl, Choeyang Kyi! The first ever Tibetan Olympian!!! We Tibetans are with you."
Tibetan fans say they're torn between their pride for her as a Tibetan and their discomfort that she's running in Chinese colors.
"I have really, really mixed feelings about today. I'm cheering her because she is Tibetan," says Dhundup, who like many Tibetans uses only one name. He was born in Tibet but fled when he was a boy.
China invaded Tibet in 1959 amid an aborted uprising, and the Tibetan spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama, fled with thousands of his followers across the Himalayas and into India, creating an exile community that now numbers 150,000 people around the world.
— John Leicester — Twitter http://twitter.com/johnleicester
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