Keep Cool Head, Says Chinese Chef de Mission

As a runner-away leader with 51 gold medals, China said Friday they should keep a sober mind and learn lessons from the World University Games so as to be better prepared for the 2008 Olympics. The Chinese delegation have achieved quite remarkable results both in their traditionally strong events and usually weaker ones at the Universiade, which is inspiring and moral-boosting, said Li Furong, Chinese Chef de Mission.

However, China should not be carried away by the success and must stay cool-headed going to the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, Li said at a press conference Friday.

With two days to go before the games closes, China has grabbed 51 golds, 22 silvers and 22 bronzes, way ahead of the second, the United States with 17 golds, and the third Russia with 12 golds.

This is by far the best showing by China at the University Games. "We've reaped double harvests at the games, both in terms of the competition results and the athletes' indomitable spirit during competition," said Li, vice president of the Chinese Olympic Committee. "We've attained our goal of testing young athletes. Overall, I'm quite satisfied with the performances of both athletes and coaches."

All the 60 drug tests done on Chinese athletes so far were negative, Li said. "But we should keep a clear mind. We should see that the Universiade does not represent the highest level of international sports competition. It cannot compare with the world championships, let alone the Olympics. The quality of some of our gold medals is not high, as the world's best athletes in those events did not come," Li said.

Li cited Chinese pole vault athlete Gao Shuying, whose gold- winning performance at the Universiade is parallel to third place at the Sydney Olympic Games, and the men's 110m hurdle gold medalist Liu Xiang, whose performance is about fifth at the world championships held last month in Edmonton, Canada.

Li attributed the resounding victory to the Chinese government support and excellent organization, absence of strong contenders, the inclusion of China's strong sports at the games and a home advantage. "A major reason£¨for China's success£© is the lack of world- class athletes at the games. The United States and Russia did not send their top athletes to Beijing. In many events, only very few of the world's top three or even top eight athletes are competing, " Li said. "Four of the 12 events at the University Games are our traditionally strong events, namely gymnastics, table tennis, diving and judo. As hosts, we included two favorable events in the games, table tennis and judo, which produced a total of 12 gold medals for us. Surely we would not be able to do this if the games were held elsewhere," Li said.

As for the preparation for the 2008 Olympics, Li said the Chinese government has vowed to pull out all stops to make it a success. "Funding would not be a problem, as the top leaders have pledged unreserved government support," Li said.

He said China has learned a lot through the hosting of the University Games, and will try to brace themselves for the 2008 Olympics by staging more international events in the next few years. "A successful University Games does not mean a successful Olympics. We'll try our best to stage more international, especially multi-sports, events to gather more experience and learn more lessons," Li said.

People's Daily Online ---