XI’AN – Su Bingtian of Guangdong Province clocked 9.95 seconds to win the men’s 100m final at the 14th National Games last Tuesday, but it took him 12 years to win his first medal ‘gold after his fourth participation in the national sports extravagance.
Su, who lowered Asia’s 100m record to 9.83 seconds at the Tokyo Olympics last month, became the first athlete to break the 10-second mark in 62 years of Games history.
As one of the most successful sports in the world, athletics has been on the competition schedule since the inaugural Games in 1959 and produced world-class stars to the cheers of domestic and international fans, such as the high jumper. Zhu Jianhua and hurdler Liu Xiang, both former world record holders.
At the 5th National Games in 1983, Zhu, from Shanghai, crossed 2.37 meters to break the men’s high jump world record in the Games qualification on June 11, and improved it to 2.38 meters. three months later in the final.
It was exactly the same year that Liu, Chinese sprint icon, was born in Shanghai.
The quest of Chinese athletes to go faster and higher did not end there. In 2001, Liu won the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.36 seconds at the 9th National Games, before setting an Asian record of 13.12 in a Grand Prix in Lausanne the following year. He broke the world record for 13 years in 12.91 by winning another Grand Prix in 12.88, again in Lausanne on July 12, 2006.
EVENTS CHANGES EMPHASIZE HOURS OF CHANGE
Unlike the traditional sport of athletics, the rules and events have changed several times in the National Games, representing a snapshot of the times.
At the first National Games, there were 36 competitions, including radio transmission and reception, sailing, marine modeling, airplane parachuting, and aerodynamic modeling.
More than 10,000 athletes from 29 delegations took part in the first Most Valued Sports Honors tournament since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, witnessing four world records broken during the Games.
Zheng Fengrong became the first Chinese athlete to break a world record. She climbed 1.77 meters to beat the 1.76 meter bar set by American Mildred McDaniel at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, remembering the feeling of being on the Games podium for the first time with her heart. still throbbing with excitement.
“I broke the world record for an American athlete on November 17, 1957. I won the high jump and the triathlon at the first National Games,” recalls the 84-year-old athlete.
“The participants in the Games were all students, workers, peasants and soldiers. Although the conditions were harsh and the environment very simple, we had only one idea in mind at the time: to win the tournament. honor to our country, ”Zheng added. .
After China’s return to the Olympic family in 1979, the events and rules of the National Games were adjusted to better match those of the Olympics.
Such a change was most significant at the Sixth National Games in 1987, when many Olympic events were added while many non-Olympic events were removed. At the same time, different scoring methods have been implemented for Olympic and non-Olympic events respectively.
Of our time, “ Paris Olympic events have been added to the 14th National Games, such as skateboarding, rock climbing, surfing and breakdancing, ”said Liu Guoyong, director of the Competition and Training Department of the General Administration. sports from China.
Amateurs, welcomed at the National Games
In addition to being a vital milestone for athletes, the National Games have also taken steps to seek a balance between competitive events and the promotion of mass sports in recent years to stay in line with the national agenda of fitness for all aimed at improving public health.
Grassroots enthusiasm for the sport echoed throughout the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which opened on August 8, which was named China’s National Fitness Day a year later.
In 2017, mass sports were officially included in the competition program of the 13th National Games, allowing ordinary people to step onto the national stage to fulfill their sporting dreams.
The 14th National Games offered the public an even bigger and bigger stage with more events, with more than 10,000 people from all walks of life participating.
Undergraduates from sports universities and members of sports clubs received their first tickets to the Games, further enriching the pool of sports talent for international competitions in the future.
“For the first time, boccia has been included in mass sports competition at the Games. This can be an important step in the development of the sport in China, ”said Yang Jianshe, deputy director of the boccia competitions committee at the 14th National Games. .
Stadiums, gymnasiums meet people’s daily needs
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, 53 Games venues were completed on schedule in June 2020, including 30 new ones. These competition venues, which represent approximately 1.4 million square meters of floor space, are spread over 13 competition areas in Shaanxi Province.
The Xi’an Olympic Sports Center, recently certified as a Level 1 venue by World Athletics, hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and also hosted the Games track and field events.
Shaanxi took advantage of the National Games to compensate for its deficiencies in sports infrastructure and to better offer the public sports spaces after the Games.
As a centerpiece of the Games, the sports center will be open to the public with a combination of paid and free access, and residents will be guaranteed a view of the “super stadium”.
“There are an increasing number of sports venues around us, and all of them are surrounded by a beautiful landscape, equipped with quality facilities and at competitive prices,” said Liu Ying, a native of Xi’an who does daily physical exercises.
To provide a green cycle path for the public, the ecological and historical resources of the Qinling Mountains have been used to build a network of greenways.
“It’s a good environment for cycling, and the view of the mountains and the river is elegant,” said Zhang Tao, an avid cyclist.
Inspired by the National Fitness Strategy, several major sports and fitness related projects have been launched in Shaanxi. In total, 628 football fields, 87 county-level public sports venues, 81 sports parks, fitness tracks and multi-functional fitness venues have been built across the province.
Shaanxi, the first western host province
Prior to 1983, the Games had only been held in Beijing, and until the 10th Games in 2005, only Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong took turns to host the Games.
“Prior to the Sixth National Games in 1987, Sichuan Province had been approved by the State Council to host the Seventh National Games. However, the State Council made a final announcement in 1988 that, based on China’s economic and financial situation, the National Games will only be held in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong by rotation, “a explained Yuan Weimin, former director of the General Administration of Sports of China.
As the policy of reform and opening-up deepened, the Chinese economy prospered and many provinces and cities became capable of hosting major sports matches.
In 2001, Jiangsu was granted the right to host the 10th National Games for the first time apart from the previous trio. Shandong, Liaoning and Tianjin have secured the right to host the next three editions of the Games.
Organized for the first time in central and western China, the 14th National Games are seen as an opportunity for Shaanxi to promote its development and strengthen its infrastructure.
With changes occurring in almost every area, the Games are just the epitome of western China’s rapid development.
And athletes around the world will also get their own preview of the upcoming 2022 World Universiade in Chengdu, the capital of southwest Sichuan Province.
The 15th National Games will return to Guangdong in 2025, but this time the Southern Province will be joined by Hong Kong and Macao, marking the first time that the two Special Administrative Regions will also become hosts of the Games.
Some participants from Hong Kong and Macau are looking forward to the 15th National Games in four years.
Cheng King Leung, acting head of the Hong Kong delegation, believes the next National Games would be a chance for Hong Kong’s next generation.
“I would say that young people in Hong Kong should participate in sports more often and inherit sportsmanship from Chinese people,” he said.
“I look forward to meeting you all at the next National Games,” said Au Chi Kun, director of the Macau track team.