This question so apparently discombobulated both translator and subjects that coach Li unexpectedly rose to his feet and politely shook my hand. Then He reluctantly set down his copy of SI, and both left the room.
Stewart and I caught up with them in the little park across the street from the hotel. Well, here perhaps Stewart could get some pictures of the famous lifter being besieged by autograph hounds. But it didn't take long for us to realize that no one in the park was even remotely interested in the little man. When we were just about to abandon the whole project, a crowd did indeed start swarming around He, eagerly waving scraps of paper at him. He looked as surprised as we by this sudden turn of events. As Stewart clicked away, I glanced off to my left and quickly discovered the source of our remarkable change of luck. There, beckoning youngsters like some Asiatic Pied Piper and handing out paper and pencils to all, was our Cao, a press officer who obviously understood the one universal journalistic truth: that a single picture is worth a thousand words, in any language.
I tucked my notebook into a sweat-soaked pocket and headed back across the street. Cao caught up with me halfway through the crowded intersection. "Yes," he said, "it is true that Mr. He was born on a farm." So I had my story, after all.