The Olympic spirit is again being widely felt worldwide as the London 2012 Summer Olympics just begun. The festive mood for the universal amateur games made everyone excited for the next two weeks as athletes worldwide vie for the golds, the silvers and the bronzes. This article however, attempts to do an analysis why of recent two Olympics, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the London 2012 Olympics, China is fast showing itself as a powerhouse. This is based on my personal visit to one of the premier training base for Chinese athletes in Nanning, in Guangxi Province.
2008 is a year of pride for China. They have hosted, for the first time, and spent billions of RMB to create an image of stability in the Olympics. Not only did China won the hearts of the people of the world by a well choreographed Opening Ceremonies, new structures such as the Bird’s Nest is gaining popularity among tourists and backpackers in Beijing. It now becomes a symbol of modern China, engaging the world as it rises. So to speak, the Dragon has awakened so the world must see.
In 2008, the over-all medal tally for China were 51 Gold, 21 Silver and 28 Bronze and followed by the US, Russia, UK and Germany. In the same year, China acquired the status of an Olympic superpower, a nation to beat in the coming games. It sealed the image of a strong and reliable China in the modern world.
The great stride is coupled with the very idealism of China’s engagements with the world as “Beijing welcomes you!” theme. During those Olympic weeks in Beijing, beijingers are given fresh outlooks, given leeway with life and lessons how to engage with the foreign world. Beijing, unlike Shanghai, is more reclusive but cosmopolitan already. During and after the Beijing Olympics, it has also sealed a new perspective of China’s engagements to the world, an image which at all cost, must not be tarnished.
Nanning Athletes Training Base
My visit to the Nanning Athletes Training Base in China was an eye-opener. It broadens my appreciation of how China is moulding its younger generations to aspire nothing but the Gold, in the Olympics. The very concept of the training base is simple. Young children who has shown potentials in any Olympic sport are recruited into the base, will be tutored privately by an Olympic medallists. The results? Obviously, a more competitive Chinese athletes and the Golds!
The training base specializes in Swimming, Gymnastics and Martial Arts. I have never been to any Chinese athlete’s training base which trains young children into Basketball, Volleyball and baseball. The Nanning training base is entirely a new idea for me. I believed that China emulated what the former Soviet Union was doing to its versatile and accomplished athletes: train them young.
I saw a boy barely 8 years old yet and he already manifested a stoned body and was jogging/running around the base, along with another boy. Both were topless even on a cold morning, raising the stamina levels so to speak. He was just running on his pace, unmindful of our visit. This scene captures my interpretation which China will remains a powerhouse beyond the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. It has successfully sealed its status as a powerhouse when it has garnered more Gold medals in 2008 and as early as now, a frontrunner in the London2012 Olympics.
As was with serious sports programs in the world, like the USA and Russia, China invests more on the younger children to carry on the torch of pride and glory in the games when they garnered Gold medals for the motherland. The Nanning Athletes Training Base just simply allows me to take a glimpse of that culture in China.
Gymnastics is one of the strength in the Olympiad by Russia and the USA; and now, China. What I understood in China is that they do not have competitions more so often compared to the Philippines. What they are investing in are training facilities and they started very young. In the absence of a competitive sports to determine who best represents them to the Olympics, they invested in a particular student-athlete, forming techniques, grace, rhythm and sportsmanship while they are very young. Supported with a fully-furbished training bases, the athletes need not worry for a day’s lot. They simply are supported by the state to hone their skills, their mastery of routines and their dreams for Gold.
Inside the Nanning Athletes Training Base, I observed a little boy who does gymnastics routine. He has shown earliest in his sports career, the preparations for the Olympics. Though very young, his body is already manifesting muscles and tones needed and necessary for the Gold. Little Chinese girls also are practicing their gymnastic routines everyday, daily.
One of the best competitive Chinese Athletes are found in swimming. In the Nanning Athletes Training Base, they train young athletes under accomplished Olympic medallists. Their coaches are Olympians and those who garnered for themselves Golds in the past Olympics and now, inspiring younger generations to seriously pursue their Olympic gold.
As I observed, they are training swimmers to be Gold athletes above all else. Daily, the swimmers get to the pool and practice with their coaches. New techniques and styles are being taught and these swimmers are following them earnestly.
Chinese swimmers, early on in their training lives, follow a strict routine of swimming lessons, hours submerged in the water and lessons taught by coaches inside the training base. They spent more time inside the pool in a day, so to speak.
The powerhouse of China in the Olympics is its athletes, millions of them. They are trained very young, they have mastered the skills, imbued with the athletic disciplines, and they conquer the world for their nation. They really have invested in their athletes and selected only handful skilful athletes to join the training base.
I believed that the Chinese government has perfected the formula for the Gold in the Olympics. Start young, invest in them and lead the world.