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Not cancel long-distance running for fear of risk

(People's Daily Online)

08:20, December 07, 2012

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Many schools in various Chinese cities such as Wuhan, Xi'an, Chongqing, Beijing, and Shenzhen have canceled long-distance running at their sports meets mainly because of the steady decline in students' physical conditions, particularly in strength and endurance.

Encouraging students to exercise is not without risk, but if schools do not encourage them to exercise, students’ physical condition will decline, and the school education will be incomplete. The Huazhong University of Science and Technology, which has deleted long-distance running from competition on its annual sports day, said that its purpose was to avoid student injuries. Wang Yufeng, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, believes that many schools do not encourage relatively dangerous sports for fear that they might be liable for related sports injuries.

College students’ declining physical condition is still a grim reality in China. According to the sixth national survey of students’ physical condition conducted in 2010, the downward trend in the physical condition of primary and secondary school students was curbed compared with 2005, but the physical condition of college students continued to worsen slowly,

Lack of exercise is one of many factors that led to such a phenomenon. Xiang Wenwen, president of the Running Association at Nankai University, said that college students’ lack of exercise is a real problem that deserves attention.

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Runners should know about their own body, and they are already winners as long as they take part in the marathon. Quitting halfway is no disgrace because scores are nothing compared with lives. People should not run beyond their abilities.

It is normal that college students cannot finish a marathon, but it would be a serious problem if they could not even finish a 3,000-meter run. Regular exercise can effectively prevent sports injuries. “Running can make people fit and calm,” Xiang said, but an international student from Germany asked her, “Why have many Chinese students never shown up again after running once?”

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In late October, the State Council approved the Several Opinions on Further Improving Physical Education in Schools jointly developed by the Ministry of Education, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance, and the State General Administration of Sports. According to the opinions, physical education quality and students’ fitness level will be used as major criteria for assessing the performance of local education officials and school leaders, and a performance evaluation and accountability mechanism will be built to improve physical education. Local education officials will be unable to pass evaluation and examination if the fitness level of students within their jurisdiction drops for three straight years.

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Many universities have adopted new measures to improve students’ fitness after the introduction of the opinions. Nankai University, which has 18 students’ sports clubs with more than 3,200 members, believes that schools should listen to students’ advice and suggestions, and support the development of sports clubs, so these clubs can encourage more students to exercise by holding various sports activities and competitions.

As a running enthusiast, Xiang believes that domestic universities should not cancel long-distance running just because of a few accidents. Compared with emergencies in running races, college students’ declining physical condition is a graver problem, she said.

Ding Xiqiao, 25, from Central China's Hunan province, died midnight on 27th November, eight days after taking part in a marathon in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province.

More than 1,500 of 20,000 participants of the recent Guangzhou Marathon suffered various symptoms such as dizziness and cramps during the race, and most of the runners who had a tumble or sprain or fainted are aged between 20 and 35.

Many schools in various Chinese cities such as Wuhan, Xi'an, Chongqing, Beijing, and Shenzhen have canceled two traditional events – the women's 3,000-meter run and men's 5,000-meter run, at their sports meets.

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