Thrifty Asian Games puts spring in the step of rural students

(Xinhua) 11:01, September 07, 2023

HANGZHOU, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- On the basketball court of Fenkou Middle School, Year-12 student Yu Wenchang dribbles the ball deftly, before delivering it into the net.

"It feels good playing here," said the sweaty teenager in east China's Zhejiang Province, noting that he is working hard towards his goal of attending Tianjin University of Sport.

This middle school in Chun'an County is more than three hours' drive from downtown Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang. But three years ago, the gymnasium looked quite different.

"The floor used to be paved with cement, with clouds of dust rising up whenever the students had gymnastics classes," recalled deputy headmaster Xu Bing with a frown.

The turning point came in 2020, when the Zhejiang Gongshang University Sports Center began upgrading its facilities in preparation for hosting the handball competitions at the Hangzhou Asian Games. The wooden floor, which didn't meet the required standard for elasticity, was replaced.

The renovation project, conducted by Zhejiang Construction Investment Group Co. Ltd., was overseen by Zhang Wu. He observed that the wooden floor had been in use for only about four years, and it would be wasteful to just throw it away.

"So we decided to donate it to some schools in rural areas," he said.

With the help of local education authorities, arrangements were made to install the flooring at Fenkou Middle School, which welcomed the upgrade.

To ensure that the wooden boards could be reused after being dismantled, workers conducted the demolition work carefully, spending about two weeks on removing the floor. Normally, it would take just five days to remove a floor of this size, covering 1,800 square meters.

The boards were transported to the middle school in August 2020, with more than 10 workers installing the floor, working overtime to get it finished by the start of the new semester. Once the job was finished, the remaining boards were used to upgrade a dance classroom at the school.

On the morning of September 7, 2020, the last wooden board was laid on the court.

"Teachers and students in the school had never used such a professional court," said Wang Limei from the education bureau in Chun'an County, who used to work at Fenkou Middle School.

Over the past three years, the upgraded stadium has helped students achieve better results, said Zhang Yaofeng, who works at the school. Last year, 28 sports students there took the university entrance exam, with 10 students scoring above 90. The highest score was 98, a record in Chun'an County for sports tests on the university entrance exam.

Zhang believes that the case of the floor reflects the principle of thrift in hosting the Hangzhou Asian Games. Of the 56 venues to be used this time, only 12 are newly-built. Comprehensive plans have been mapped out for the future use of 51 out of the 56 venues, and sustainable operational entities have been identified.

Apart from playing basketball, Yu Wenchang also enjoys regular training sessions on the new floor. He is excited about the upcoming Asian Games, telling Xinhua, "As a fan of sports, I'm looking forward to having the sports gala in my hometown."

During Asiad, which runs from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8, several events, including cycling and triathlon, will be hosted in Chun'an. Cyclists competing for the medals are expected to ride past the township of Fenkou where Yu lives.

"Having the Asian Games on our doorstep will surely fuel my passion for sports," he said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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