China Showcases Next Olympic Stars

The 7th Chinese City Games opened in Jianxi’s provincial capital of Nanchang on Sunday, but not without a nontraditional approach to breeding talent in the last significant multi-sport event China will hold before the 2012 London Olympics. From Xinhua News:

The City Games, seen as a seedbed for future Olympic champions, features most of the sports on the Olympic Games program, including soccer, basketball, table tennis, tennis, archery, track and field, swimming, diving, judo, kayak, shooting, weightlifting and wrestling.

The medal standings, however, will not be announced during the City Games in order to make sure delegations focus on grooming prospects rather than impressing on such standings.

Young athletes have been encouraged to take part in the competitions to gain experiences for international competitions and even boost their chances of being selected for the future Olympic Games.

In some of the sports, the youngsters will face an uphill task of competing against established athletes like Ye Shiwen, a 15-year-old swimmer who snatched the women’s 200m individual medley title in the world championships held in Shanghai last July.

Many outstanding Olympic champions like Athens Games men’s 110m hurdles champion Liu Xiang, women’s table tennis player Deng Yaping, arguably the all-time great, and diving queen Fu Mingxia, winner of four Olympic gold medals, all used this quadrennial event as a platform en route to their world fame

See additional coverage of China sports, via CDT, including the recent retirement of its longstanding top sports star, Yao Ming, and the recent triumphs of the woman who may be its next star, Li Na.