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Lessons in excellence

By SHI FUTIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-31 09:33
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Two-time Olympic badminton champion Zhao Yunlei coaches kids from Beijing Yuxiang Primary School during the third edition of online show My Sports Class on Wednesday. [Photo for China Daily]

Not many kids can claim to have been taught PE by an Olympic champion.

So when the likes of volleyball great Hui Ruoqi or speed skating ace Zhang Hong takes class, there's certainly no danger of concentration levels flagging.

Hui and Zhang are among a number of former world and Olympic champs taking part in "My Sports Class"-an online program from Tencent Sports that aims to instill kids with a passion for exercise and fitness.

The show sees the stars guide the children through various sports classes and share their life stories with them.

Tencent Sports uses its platform to broadcast the classes live, and hopes to raise the public's awareness of sports participation and the all-around development of young people.

So far, three classes have been organized, with the latest one on Wednesday seeing retired badminton star Zhao Yunlei appearing as the guest mentor.

Zhao, who won the mixed doubles and women's doubles golds at the 2012 London Olympics, shared her expertise with 38 kids from a primary school in Beijing. The 34-year-old taught her pupils the basic rules and skills of badminton and hit returns with her young fans.

Zhao said she hoped the activity could spread the spirit of sports and encourage more people-especially those watching online-to lead healthier lifestyles.

"I spent 17 years in the Chinese national badminton team and I'm in the sport for over 30 years. I encountered and overcame many difficulties throughout my career," Zhao addressed the students.

"It's great that we could have this class together. I don't know how many of you already know how to play badminton, but this is a good experience for all of us."

Get your skates on

Earlier this month, Zhang, who won the women's 1,000 meters speed skating gold at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, took class with children from Beijing Jingyuan School. It was the first time for many kids to experience speed skating, with many afraid to even stand on the ice.

"There are metal blades on your skates, so be very careful not to injure yourselves. Don't cut yourself, but don't be afraid to fall down. It's inevitable for beginners," Zhang encouraged her students.

"We can only learn how to skate after we learn how to fall down on the ice. That's a life lesson-we always need to know how to stand up on our feet after we fall down. We should learn how to face difficulties and overcome obstacles. Then we need to charge forward bravely."

Zhang ensured every kid had mastered the basic skills before dividing them into three groups and organizing competitions. The retired star said it was a great opportunity to interact with the younger generation.

"I feel I have a responsibility to help the development of speed skating and winter sports in China," she said.

"I'm not just teaching the children around me. Through the live broadcasting, students from across China can feel the joy of winter sports, so I hope more and more people can embrace ice and snow activities.

"Now 2020 is almost over. After another year, we will have the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, so hosting such activities is very worthwhile."

Former volleyball star Hui, who captained the Chinese women's squad to Olympic gold at the 2016 Rio Games, took the reins for the first installment of the show in September. After her retirement in 2018, Hui has been focusing on sports education through her charitable Hui Foundation and has visited many schools in rural areas across China as part of her mission to improve sports education.

Her impact on the kids is heartwarming.

"That was the first time for me to actually meet an Olympic gold medalist. She is so tall," enthused one of Hui's pupils, named Lamaoji. "I was thrilled when I heard from my classmates that she would come."

Hui insists she finds the work extremely rewarding.

"We conducted a survey before to find out if there was a shortage of sports teachers of all levels across China. I have been thinking, if I have enough influence, I could encourage more people to work in sports education," said the 29-year-old.

"I visited many schools in rural areas, and these schools are very different from what I expected. Many schools actually have enough facilities, but they don't have professional sports teachers.

"One student told me he has never had a proper PE class before. I was shocked. So I just thought I can bring some equipments and teachers to them and offer some help."

 

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