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‘Deadly’ long runs dropped at college track competitions

By Zhou Ping (Global Times)

11:01, November 13, 2012

Over 30 colleges in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, have canceled long-distance runs at their sports meets for fear that students will drop dead, as dozens did last decade, said a professor from one of the schools.

The women's 3,000-meter run and men's 5,000-meter run have been deleted from competition at the annual school sports day amid concerns over the poor physical condition of students, the Xi'an-based Chinese Business View reported Sunday.

"Our school stopped these two events in 2006 to prevent sudden death. As far as I know, more than 40 participants in long-distance runs died during long-runs between 2002 and 2010," Qiao Xiaoshan, a professor specializing in sports research at the Xi'an University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times.

Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Hubei Province also canceled the two events at the school's track meet over the weekend, reported the Changjiang Daily.

Shen Yuejin, deputy director of the school's sports department, said it's dangerous for students who are not physically fit to run in cold weather.

Experts said although there have been reports of sudden death during long runs, schools should not abandon the events.

"Long runs test a person's endurance and boost physical fitness. It's the foundation of other sports," Ni Junping, a teacher who supervises student's daily physical exercise in Shanghai, told the Global Times.

Students should train before competing in long runs and schools should be aware of the potential risks, said Ni.

While some students said long-distance running is good exercise and they don't want to see the event canceled, others said it should be replaced with exercises that are more fun.

According to China's General Administration of Sport in 2010, the physical conditioning of college students has declined over the past 25 years. Times for the women's 800-meter run and men's 1,000-meter run have slowed by more than 10 percent.

"Their conditioning has been getting worse because during elementary and high schools they study after class and on weekends," Qiao said.

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