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Sports stars promote greater participation

By SUN XIAOCHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-19 07:49
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Although he retired from table tennis four years ago, legendary player Wang Liqin is even busier now as he shifts among different roles in his post-athletic career.

Wang left the sport in early 2014 with two Olympic gold medals when he was one of the most powerful forehand players. Now he is a new member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body.

The body consists of members from all walks of life, ranging from business tycoons to renowned scholars and Olympic champions such as Wang, who assemble every March at its annual session to discuss major social and economic development issues, while offering proposals and solutions.

Wang, who is director of the Shanghai administrative center of table tennis and badminton, was recommended to join the advisory body on a five-year term starting from 2018 for his continuous involvement in sports development after retirement.

Wang was joined by fellow Shanghai native and basketball legend Yao Ming, five-time Olympic champion gymnast Zou Kai and two-time Olympic champion shooter Du Li on a high-profile sports panel of the CPPCC's 13th National Committee.

"It's bigger than any other role I've had so far in my career," said Wang, 39, who won gold medals for table tennis in the men's doubles at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and for a team event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"We used to focus only on ourselves in a narrow area of how to perfect our skills. Now we are thinking, talking and advising as representatives for a much wider group of people concerning their health and sports development."

Even with experience managing Shanghai's table tennis and badminton teams, Wang remains a rookie in his new role with the top-level think tank, so he approached his first session as seriously as he did when preparing for his Olympic debut.

Wang stated his views when talking about cultivating athletic talent and pushing sports participation among the public.

"To make my proposals to the point, I need to observe, study and absorb on a broader horizon to understand what the general public and industry demand from sports development.

"I do find myself struggling to balance this job and my other roles, but I enjoy having the opportunity to learn," Wang said. Citing sport's influence on his personality since picking up table tennis at age 6, Wang said he will urge the sports and education authorities as well as the private sector to work together to promote greater sports participation on campuses and in communities by making facilities and competitions more accessible.

"We need more mass sports infrastructure and services as well as competition platforms for amateurs to take part in easily and cheaply," said Wang, who has won 11 world championship titles since being drafted into the national team at 15.

To make his voice louder, Wang participated in a group interview at the Great Hall of the People in front of global media during the two sessions to express his vision of promoting mass fitness.

"In the new era, Chinese sportsmen should make new contributions to the country even though we are no longer in the spotlight," he said.

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