Spirit of en­durance mat­ters, so does skill

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS - The au­thor is a se­nior writer with China Daily. zhuyuan@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

With the Chi­nese women’s volleyball team grab­bing the 26th and last Olympic gold for the coun­try in Rio de Janeiro on Sun­day, “the spirit of the Chi­nese women’s volleyball team” seems to have be­come a fa­vorite term for many. There is also a de­bate rag­ing over the con­no­ta­tions of the term and its rel­e­vance to the de­vel­op­ment of sports and a wider range of ar­eas.

The eas­i­est but not very un­con­vinc­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tion would be to link the per­se­ver­ance of the volleyball play­ers to pa­tri­o­tism in order to make Chi­nese youths more pa­tri­otic.

It is also nat­u­ral for some to say this tri­umph is the con­tin­u­a­tion of the fight­ing spirit shown by the women’s volleyball team in the 1980s, when for five con­sec­u­tive years it swept all the ma­jor world com­pe­ti­tions, in­clud­ing the Olympics. That reign not only boosted the de­vel­op­ment of sports in China, but also in­stilled in the ma­jor­ity of Chi­nese a sense of na­tional pride.

But that was in the early 1980s when the re­form and openingup pol­icy had pro­jected a rosy pic­ture for both the coun­try and the peo­ple. It was easy for peo­ple to ac­cept the spirit of the women’s volleyball team as “the sym­bol” of ded­i­ca­tion, which they could ap­ply to any field of ac­tiv­ity, from ed­u­ca­tion to ca­reers and from eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment to na­tion build­ing.

To­day, it would be pre­sump­tu­ous to say such a spirit is still needed to prompt Chi­nese peo­ple to be to­tally ded­i­cated to their work to achieve their goal. Also, there is no need to ex­ag­ger­ate the fight­ing spirit of the volleyball play­ers just be­cause they beat Ser­bia in the fi­nal to win the gold. Many ath­letes, Chi­nese as well as for­eign, showed courage, per­se­ver­ance and tenac­ity at the Olympics and yet quite a few of them failed to win a medal. So even with­out the gold medal, the Chi­nese women volleyball play­ers would have de­served the ap­plause.

The spirit of women’s volleyball team is ac­tu­ally pro­fes­sion­al­ism. The play­ers are lucky to have Lang Ping as their coach. Athor­ough pro­fes­sional, Lang has a univer­sity de­gree in sports man­age­ment from theUnited States and has worked as a coach in dif­fer­ent coun­tries, in­clud­ing as coach of theUS na­tional team. That she is a for­mer na­tional player— dur­ing those fate­ful 1980s— and coach adds to her qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Many say she also un­der­stands how im­por­tant co­he­sion is for a team and has her own way of cul­ti­vat­ing ded­i­ca­tion in her play­ers— ded­i­ca­tion to the roles they play on the court. Vig­or­ous train­ing, she be­lieves, is the only way to im­prove a player’s skills. “The spirit of en­durance is never enough, you need to be skill­ful enough.” This is her an­swer to a ques­tion about the women’s volleyball team spirit. It is be­cause of the pro­fes­sion­al­ism and spirit of en­durance Lang has in­stilled in her team that the play­ers could grab vic­tory from the jaws of de­feat— their losses to Ser­bia and the Nether­lands in the ini­tial stages. The two set­backs tested the ma­tu­rity and re­silience of Lang’s team. And the wins against host Brazil in the quar­ters and the Nether­lands in the semis showed how re­silient the team re­ally was. Of course, with enough ef­forts and luck, the play­ers also got the bet­ter of Ser­bia in the fi­nal and, along with the gold, won the spirit so­bri­quet for the team. The gist is that a sports team can­not ex­pect to win with­out pro­fes­sion­al­ism and the spirit of en­durance, but not all teams with pro­fes­sion­al­ism and the spirit of en­durance will win ev­ery time they take the field or court.

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