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Former athlete calls for better military fitness

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

Updated: 2016-03-07 08:05:00


Former athlete calls for better military fitness

Wang Lianying, deputy chief of the People's Liberation Army's athletics team

As reporters mobbed her high-profile counterpart Yao Ming for interviews on Sunday afternoon, Wang Lianying, who is also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference's National Committee, sat in the same room drawing no media attention at all.

Despite her obscure presence at the top political advisory body's annual session, Wang became a household name in the military sports world after she won the individual title at the World Military Pentathlon Championship five consecutive times from 1994 to 1998 - the only female to do so.

A political adviser since 2013, Wang admitted that making serious proposals for the country's social development weighs much heavier on her than all the dumbbells she lifted in her 17 years of military sports training.

"It's a learning curve for me to try to study a wide range of issues affecting society and not just focus on the athletic training of soldiers," said the 45-year-old, who is current deputy chief of the People's Liberation Army's athletics team.

"Being a CPPCC member is not just an honor, it is a responsibility to fulfill your duties and speak for those who have entrusted in you."

Although she has not officially submitted her proposal, Wang revealed that it is related to improving the athletic quality of the army.

"It's become harder for us at the military athletic team to draft qualified soldiers over the years and we need to take action," she said, pointing to the perceived moderate decline in fitness of enlisted youth candidates.

As a multi-championship winner who was dubbed "superwoman" for her rigorous training, Wang said she couldn't tolerate the glory of China's decorated military pentathlon team being diminished.

"The sport was designed to test a soldier's fundamental abilities to survive and win a real battle. Finishing second means you get killed by your enemy in a real war," she said.

Organized by the International Military Sports Council, the annual military pentathlon championship tests soldier's skills in five sub-events, 200-meter shooting, 500 m obstacle running, 50 m obstacle swimming and projectile throwing as well as cross-country running. Individual and team winners are decided by the combined scores in all five disciplines.

Wang enlisted in the army in 1985 as a soldier athlete and joined the PLA female pentathlon team in 1992 when the championship was first opened to female soldiers.

"I decided to challenge myself as I considered the pentathlon competition the highest possible stage to show the prowess of Chinese troops in front of the world," she said.

During her prime, Wang's daily routine started at 6 am. She would begin with a 10 km run before breakfast no matter the weather. After practicing her shooting, for both precision and speed, she followed up with swimming and weight training before ending with a cross-country run.

To honor her years of dedication in the sport, the International Military Sports Council in 2000 allowed Wang to permanently keep the women's individual trophy, which previously passed between winners.