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Splendid Gala

By Miao Xiaoyang (Beijing Review)

08:28, October 08, 2011

The Ninth National Traditional Games of Ethnic Minorities showcased unity and harmony of the Chinese people with sports events and colorful performance featuring unique traditions of 55 minority ethnic groups

The nine-day 9th National Traditional Games of Ethnic Minorities held in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, closed on September 18. More than 6,700 athletes from 34 delegations representing China's 55 ethnic groups participated in the games. The gala included 188 performances and 16 competitive sporting events, such as swinging, dragon-boat racing, single bamboo drifting, board shoes racing, ethnic-style wrestling, and peg-top beating.

Swinging is the only event solely for women, and is derived from dangqiuqian, an activity for women of the China-Korean ethnic group. Team Hunan won five of the eight medals in this event, which is typically won by teams from Jilin and Hunan provinces, as well Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Huang Yansheng, head referee from Hunan Province, said "Hunan has listed swinging in its quadrennial provincial games and set up sports bases for minority ethnic groups, aiming to promote this sport in the province."

Three brothers, who are farmers from Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang, have won two gold prizes and one silk prize in Uygur-style wrestling. The elder brother Tursunmamat Tohtimamat had won gold medals at two previous National Ethnic Games respectively held in Guangdong Province in 2007 and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in 2003. He has since become a wrestling coach at an athletics school in Hotan.

Uygur-style wresting is very popular in Hotan. Non-governmental wrestling matches are held from May to October each year, showcasing the abilities of some phenomenal talents. "Such outstanding wrestlers would be chosen to enter regional and state-level matches, and then will be invited as coaches," said Kahirman Dawut, a Uygur-style wrestling coach from Xinjiang.

Ethnic groups in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces are deeply fond of peg-top beating, called datuoluo in Chinese. Xie Youming and his two younger brothers of the Yao ethnic group coming from Libo County in Guizhou, won gold at this event.

"Almost all people, from the young kids to elders, can play peg-top, and peg-top beating matches held during holiday celebrations each year have become big events in my village," Xie said. Xie now is a sport teacher specializing in beating peg-top at the Yaoshan Minzu Middle School in Libo.

Tondrub Wangbum, vice minister of the State Commission for Ethnic Affairs, said the most lovely feature is that ethnic groups are the mainstay in the National Ethnic Games. "All the touching competitions and performances are derived from the traditions of minority ethnic groups. [The games] can bring people great energy and pleasure," he said.

"The real mission of the games is not only to seek after sports medals, but also to pass on excellent traditional sport culture of ethnic minorities, and promote culture communication among various ethnic groups, so as to push forth ethnic unity and common prosperity."

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