Asian Games push China to become sporting nation

15:41, November 29, 2010      

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China's medal supremacy at the Asian Games has not only encouraged young athletes for competitive sports, but also forged discussions on how to change China from a big nation in sports into a real sporting nation.

For decades, the government has invested to become a strong sports power.

It has catapulted home grown talents, especially at grassroots level into the world arena. Next, our reporter Han Bin investigates the efforts and cost for the achievements.

This is one of the cradles of China’s diving stars -----the Beijing Mu Xiyuan Sports School. The athletes are selected from hundreds of children.

17-year-old Zhou Yu started diving when she was only seven. Today, she has already won several national awards.

Zhou Yu, Diver, Beijing Mu Xiyuan Sports School, said, "What supports us is the dream to get into the national team and win gold medals at the National Champions or the Olympics. This has encouraged us to keep on training."

At the 16th Asian Games, China once again far surpasses all other participants in the gold medal tally. This is seen as a reflection of nationwide passion for sweaty competition and national pride.

Lou Dapeng, Senior Sports Advisor, said, "Because for the past two centuries, we have always been subjected by western powers. In a way, the Chinese people they have been called sick men in Asia. The gold medals are reflection of the dignity of our nation."

The success of the sports system means China will keep it.

"China has been using a government –sponsored national sports system since the 1980s. The emphasis has been on training promising young athletes, with the primary goal of winning glory for the country. But only a few can make it to the top."

Unlike the club system in the UK or the US, the Chinese government provides full funding to train athletes from grassroots to the very top, for competitive sports. The enormous cost is difficult to calculate.

Wei Jizhong, Former President, China Sports Industry Group Co., said, "As the general grassroots training system has yet to be established, China has to use a kind of industrialized way to produce medals for the athletes from young."

But China does not do all that well in track and field and swimming. The need to make breakthroughs in these sports was what brought 18-year-old Huang Zhenghan to the pool.

Huang Zhenghan, Swimmr, Beijing Swimming Team, said, "Sports competition is cruel. Only one or two can get the gold, yet we all keep on training for that goal. But you may not get the reward."

The system that enlists so many young athletes and brings success to so few has led many to question whether the big nation in sports has become a real sporting nation.

Yan Qiang, Vice President, Titan Media, said, "We have forming a habit of enjoying the gold medals, instead of better understanding of sports. So, society should focus more on real meaning of sports--- the participation of sports, in order to enhance our overall physical standards and well-being that will be even greater achievements for sports in China."

Zhou Yu is preparing to compete in the Seoul Asian Games in 2014. Huang Zhenghan and most others have been edged out by the competition at this Asian Games, but the dream for medals pushes them to train even harder.



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