China counts down to glory

By Si Tingting (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-28 07:17

The Olympic countdown has cracked the 500-day mark, sparking a renewed burst of "Games fever" among many Chinese people.

Thousands of Beijing residents convened at the signature Tian'anmen Square on Sunday to test their endurance in the Beijing Spring International Long Distance Running Festival.

On the same day, another 10,000 Beijingers took part in an 18-kilometer walk in the Beijing International Long-distance Walking Carnival in Beijing's Chaoyang Park.

There are still another 40 cultural and sports events planned for the remainder of March in Beijing.

Table tennis enthusiasts can sharpen their ping-pong skills in a city-wide competition, which started two weeks ago.

People in Chongwen District will be given free tutoring in tai chi, martial arts and social dance.

Qingdao, in East China's Shandong Province, the co-host city for the sailing event, marked the historical moment with a gala event, where people shared their stories of how they got involved with the Games.

Hong Kong celebrated the opening of its 50th Festival of Sport last Sunday with a special equestrian performance, geared towards promoting Hong Kong as key host to the event in 16 months time.

The milestone countdown also gained lots of exposure on almost every TV channel and newspapers nationally.

China's commitment to the Olympic spirit has even drawn praise from the Games' heaviest hitters, including International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge.

"When walking through the streets of Beijing, the pride and enthusiasm of its people is palpable," Rogge said.

He applauded Beijing's "great progress in venue construction", while stressing the need for strong focus on this summer's 26 test events.

Many of China's Olympic hopefuls, such as star hurdler Liu Xiang and table tennis player Wang Liqin, vowed to brush up on their skills during the Games countdown.

(China Daily 03/28/2007 page4)

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