According to the official countdown, the Beijing Olympics are about 240 days away and the pressure is mounting for China’s athletes to bring home the bacon, especially in China’s strongest events like ping pong, diving, and gymnastics. In traditional Chinese business fashion, gymnastics coaches are making their gymnasts sign a contract to stay injury-free and drug-free in preparation for the Games, according to this article from China Daily.
In an unusual move to secure a gymnastics golden harvest at next year’s Olympic Games, Chinese gymnasts and their coaches will sign contracts with the sport’s state governing center to ensure everyone in the 2008 lineup will be injury free and drug free, a top team official said.
“In the coming days, all the Chinese national coaches will sign contracts with the gymnastics administrative center to prevent serious injuries from happening before the Beijing Games.
Also all the gymnasts will sign with the center to prevent any doping offenses,” China’s gymnastics team leader Zhang Peiwen said on the sidelines of the 2007 Good Luck Beijing Gymnastics International Invitational Tournament, which ended on Monday in the newly built National Indoor Stadium.
“I don’t know exactly when they will sign because we are still working on the details of the contracts. But I think it will be pretty soon.”
Hmm, good luck with that.
In other gymnastics news, a test event was held in the brand, spanking new National Indoor Stadium in Beijing. Unsurprisingly, the results of the “Good Luck Beijing” competition were a good preview of what we can expect to see at the big show this summer. In the men’s event, the Chinese men dominated, winning the team competition (with its “B” team no less) by a large margin of 3.050 points, or about 4 or 5 falls. Individually, the Chinese men also did well, winning four individual gold medals. They were led by Lu Bin (陆斌), who won gold on three events: pommel horse, still rings, and vault. Lu’s teammate, Liang Mingsheng (梁明声), won parallel bars.
Although there was no team competition for the women, the Chinese women were the clear winners, capturing four gold medals and one silver medal. China’s Jiang Yuyuan (江钰源) won the gold medal in the all-around competition, thus solidifying her role as China’s best chance for an all-around medal in Beijing. It was also a great competition for China’s superstar gymnast, Cheng Fei (程菲), who won three gold medals, winning vault, floor exercise, and balance beam. Although a simple uneven bar routine would make Cheng Fei a threat for all-around gold in Beijing, she has abandoned that idea.
You may remember, Wang Yan (王燕), a gymnast who was paralyzed after she fell from the uneven bars at this year’s National Gymnastics Championships. She is now able to walk and has regained almost all feeling in her arms and legs. Also doing well is Sang Lan (桑兰). You may remember her from the 1998 Goodwill Games after a freak accident resulted in paralysis. According to this article, she recently graduated from Beijing University, has her own talk show for sina.com, and hopes to be one of the final torchbearers for the Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Games. We sure hope she gets it.
Picture of Cheng Fei on the balance beam is from the official Good Luck Beijing website.