Qu Tianxiao, a freshman at the Dalian Naval Academy, is closer to his dream of commanding a Chinese warship and paying a friendly visit to his counterparts in other countries, after some winning performances in swimming and sailing competitions.
The competitions were part of the Second Naval Military Triathlon and Naval English Competition, which concluded on Sunday in Qingdao of East China's Shandong province.
Qu was among the 80-plus excellent students selected from three leading Chinese naval academies and universities to take part in the competition held by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Headquarters.
"It has always been my dream to devote myself to a stronger Chinese navy and take part in an international mission, either for a convoy in Somalian waters or a friendly visit to neighboring Russia," said the 20-year-old shy but ambitious freshman.
Early this year, Qu and his classmates took part in a swimming competition with naval students from 12 countries, and they came in at fourth place.
In the past three days, student competitors from the Naval Aeronautical Engineering Institute (NAEI) based in Yantai of Shandong, the Dalian Naval Academy based in Northeast China's Liaoning province, and the Naval University of Engineering based in Wuhan of Central China's Hubei province, competed in 1,000-meter swimming, 13-member sampan, flying-tiger sailing and naval English competitions.
Students, mainly sophomores and juniors, from the NAEI were group champions in the swimming and sampan events, and the other two academies came first in sailing (Dalian Naval Academy) and English competition (Naval University of Engineering).
Zheng Zhisong, an official in the universities and colleges department of the navy headquarters, said the competitions would beef up naval students' fighting sprits and improve the navy's capacity, especially in international exchanges.
"The competitions are designed to foster naval students' spirit of endurance, courage and teamwork, deepening the navy's military professional quality and capacity training," said Zheng.
Different from other triathlons, the event is intended to establish a characteristic brand built on naval military skill and technique competition.
"It will also help to increase students' international communication skills and enhance the Chinese navy's global influence," Zheng added.
Zheng said the Chinese navy has become an open force, with more international exchanges and cooperation in recent years.
By the end of June this year, the Chinese navy had sent 24 warships to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters to protect 3,960 ships from rampant piracy, statistics from the navy headquarters show.
Meanwhile, the Chinese navy had received 154 visiting warships from 41 foreign countries and sent 38 groups of warships to visit 53 countries.
Zheng said naval students are the future of the Chinese navy, and they will go abroad for visits or training not only after graduation but also during their university period, and a solid command of naval English and high international quality will be required.
For instance, more than 100 naval students from the Dalian Naval Academy, the first PLA Navy's institute of higher learning, are visiting Russia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on the training ship Zhenghe.
They are supposed to complete offshore teaching and training tasks and communication activities with local navy servicemen and naval students.
All three academies and the Naval Submarine College in Qingdao have been equipped with swimming pools, sampans, sailboats and supporting facilities to ensure students' training.
Swimming classes are scheduled every week, and sailing classes are usually held during weekends and summer vacations.
The Second Naval Military Triathlon was also part of the ongoing 21st Qingdao International Marine Festival.
Qingdao hosted the 2008 Olympic Sailing Regetta and is known as the Sailing City of China.