Games: Over 7,000 am­a­teurs com­pete as na­tional fi­nal­ists

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Top News -

Bei­jing have qual­i­fied for bad­minton’s ama­teur cat­e­gory in Tian­jin, which starts on Wed­nes­day, to sleep and eat in the same ath­letes’ vil­lage and com­pete for the same medals as their pro­fes­sional peers.

Ac­cord­ing to the Tian­jin or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, more than 7,000 am­a­teurs across the coun­try have com­peted or will par­tic­i­pate in fi­nal rounds of the 19 sports and games.

Li Yingchuan, as­sis­tant direc­tor of the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Sport of China, said the re­form is ground­break­ing.

“To bring the am­a­teurs into the spot­light and let them demon­strate their pas­sion for sport on such a high­pro­file stage is a tes­ti­mony to the coun­try’s com­mit­ment to fur­ther pro­mote mass sports par­tic­i­pa­tion and a health­ier na­tion,” Li said.

Among the 19 events, some are folk games em­braced by lo­cals in the coun­try­side and cities.

Dragon boat rac­ing, which has deep cul­tural roots in South China, is among the events for am­a­teurs in­tro­duced at this year’s Na­tional Games. The fi­nals were held in co-host city Changde, Hu­nan prov­ince, from July 15 to 17 and at­tracted 24 teams in 12 dis­ci­plines.

Fang Jin­cai, a 55-year-old rower from Foshan, Guang­dong prov­ince, quit the sport in 2015 to fo­cus on her fam­ily af­ter be­com­ing a grand­mother, but she was lured back by the prospect of go­ing for gold at the Na­tional Games. wushu

“I’d been in­ter­ested in the sport since 2002, but I had to give it up be­cause I have a sugar cane field to tend, a fish pond to feed and two grand­daugh­ters to take care of,” said Fang, who helped Guang­dong win four of the six fe­male cat­e­gories in the fi­nal.

“The Na­tional Games in­clu­sion drew me back, and I hope it will in­spire more of peo­ple to carry on.”

As China shifts its sport­ing fo­cus from win­ning gold medals at in­ter­na­tional events to pro­mot­ing a health­ier life­style among its cit­i­zens, the trans­for­ma­tion of its tra­di­tional high-per­for­mance sport­ing event to an ac­ces­si­ble fit­ness gala is a pro­gres­sive move, ac­cord­ing to Yang Guo­qing, prin­ci­pal of Nan­jing Sport In­sti­tute.

“It’s a mile­stone in the his­tory of the Na­tional Games in terms of func­tion and ob­jec­tive. It makes the event an an­chor to trig­ger greater mass sports par­tic­i­pa­tion, not just a drill for ath­letic elites,” Yang said.

Un­like those par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 19 events where they only com­pete against their own kinds, ama­teur swim­mers will have a shot to race against their star coun­ter­parts, such as Olympic cham­pion Sun Yang and world cham­pion Ning Ze­tao in the pool in Tian­jin.

The Tian­jin games will open qual­i­fi­ca­tions in three swim­ming events — 50-me­ter and 100-me­ter freestyle, and 100-me­ter breast stroke — to am­a­teurs, and those who make it through could pos­si­bly swim against Sun and Ning in their re­spec­tive heats.

“What was once unimag­in­able is now achiev­able,” said Liu Daqing, direc­tor of the Na­tional Aquatic Sports Ad­min­is­tra­tive Cen­ter. “I be­lieve this will be an ef­fec­tive way to at­tract more peo­ple to swim­ming.”

GUO CHEN / XINHUA

Huo Jinghong (left) prac­tices “Huo box­ing” with her stu­dents in Tian­jin Uni­ver­sity of Com­merce on Satur­day. Huo, a de­scen­dant of the great mas­ter Huo Yuan­jia, won an ama­teur gold medal at the 13th Chi­nese Na­tional Games last month.

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