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Chengjinglun Sports School: school of Chinese champions

(People's Daily Online)    18:25, August 10, 2016

China's Fu Yuanhui attends the awarding ceremony of women's 100m backstroke swimming final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 8, 2016. Fu Yuanhui won the bronze medal with 58.76 seconds. (Xinhua/Fei Maohua)

When Chinese swimmers Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen dazzled at the London Olympics four years ago, their alma mater, Chengjinglun Sports School, was also in the spotlight. Now with Rio Olympics silver medal winner Xu Jiayu and bronze medal winner Fu Yuanhui on the alumni list, the Hangzhou-based training school has truly come to be seen as a cradle of swimming champions.

Unlike most schools, which await students’ applications, the coaches of Chengjinglun’s swim team go out and scout for talent at hundreds of elementary schools around Hangzhou. In the end, around 800 children receive invitations to attend the school. The number gets further cut to 500 by the end of summer training. Finally, when the winter holiday is over, only about 150 children become official members of the school’s swim team.

Despite, or perhaps because of its rigorous selection process, the school is in hot demand.

“Before Sun and Ye became big names, we used to worry whether people would enroll after receiving our invitation. Now it is a whole new situation,” said Zhu Ying, Sun’s old coach at the school. Fu’s former coach, Wu Ying, added that due to the enormous number of applicants, each coach only opens for registration for half a day.

Students at Chengjinglun Sports Schools swim 5,000 to 6,000 meters during each practice session, 70 percent of which is done at an aerobic level. This level of intensity is beyond imagination, especially when compared to other amateur sports schools. However, according to insiders, the school’s strong aerobic base provides many possibilities for its athletes.

Apart from demanding training sessions, students and parents at the school are held to high standards for attendance as well. The school remains open throughout the entire year except Chinese New Year. Some students simply drop out because their parents cannot pick them up every day.

Coaches at the school also face rigorous standards. Normally, after six or seven years, the coaches with the most potential are recruited by professional teams; those who are less successful often choose to continue their academic studies instead. The whereabouts of a coach’s past students are a clear indicator of the training ability of that coach.

The school encourages its students to participate in competitions from the moment they matriculate.

“It is necessary for them to gain competition experience to improve their emotional resilience,” explained one school leader.

Retired champions like Luo Xuejuan, Yang Yu and Wu Peng are also alumni of the school. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Yuan Can,Bianji)

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