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Relaxed Blair lacks footballing flair
By Yu Yilei, Wu Chong and Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-07 05:35

Visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair's football skills have been the least successful part of his visit to China.

After seven attempts, Blair[R], 52, finally hit the back of the net, beating 13-year-old Chinese goalie Yan Xiangshan. [newsphoto]
After seven attempts, Blair, 52, finally hit the back of the net, beating 13-year-old Chinese goalie Yan Xiangshan.

"I did not try my best (to block the ball)," said Yan, a student from the attached high school of Renmin University.

"Actually, I don't think his skills are very good!"

Blair joined veteran football coach Sir Bobby Robson, who fed him the passes, and a group of China's youth football players at Beijing's Yuetan Stadium in the sunshine yesterday afternoon, in a move aimed at strengthening sports and cultural exchanges between the countries.

On the track, British athletics legend Colin Jackson coached 20 young Chinese athletes including China's Olympic champion Liu Xiang, with whom he shares the world record, 12.91 seconds, in the men's 110-metre hurdles.

In Beijing for EU-China summit talks, Blair was accompanied by celebrities such as Robson, Royal Ballet principal dancer Darcey Bussell, leading architect Norman Foster and film director Richard Curtis.

They hosted master classes to share their expertise with Chinese students, dancers and athletes.

Although there are still almost three years before Beijing passes the Olympic baton to London, both China and Britain are willing to co-operate in the area of sports, now and in the future.
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