Canadian gymnastics team coach Tony Smith was amazed yesterday when his back pain vanished after just one acupuncture session at the Olympic Village clinic.
"It really does work," he said. "I will definitely recommend it to my athletes."
Smith, who has long suffered from lower back pain, had just about given up hope after none of the various treatments he tried made any difference.
"I thought I should give Chinese acupuncture a try, and found it really relieves the pain," he said.
Tony Smith and two Chinese acupuncturists.
"I'll try it again this week. If it still works, I'll carry on with the treatment when I get back to Canada."
The village clinic provides a 24-hour free service, including outpatient surgery, dermatology and dentistry, for athletes and officials from June 20 to Sept 20.
Chinese massage, acupuncture and other forms of traditional Chinese medicine are also available.
Acupuncture has been practiced in China for thousands of years. It consists of inserting and manipulating fine filiform needles into specific points of the body.
"This is the first time an Olympic Village has offered acupuncture," said Wang Weidong, director of the clinic's department of Chinese traditional medicine. "I hope the service we provide here relieves athletes' aches and pains, and also expands the influence of traditional Chinese medicine.
"Acupuncture relieves pain and is a therapeutic treatment of chronic injuries. It is also an effective remedy for headaches and insomnia," he said.
Four qualified Chinese acupuncturists from Guang'anmen Hospital, within the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, work at the Olympic village clinic.
Smith lay on the bed in the small acupuncture treatment room, with Chinese acupoint diagrams on its walls, as Xu Hairong, dressed in her white and blue volunteer uniform, inserted needles in his face, arms and legs.
Xu, who has been an acupuncturist for six years, said she had received encouraging feedback from visitors.
"At first only a few officials and coaches came in, but even the athletes want to give it a try now.
"A chef de mission's wife has been coming here for the past few days to get treatment her arthritic shoulder," Xu said.
"She is so pleased with the results she has recommended it to others. A swimmer from her country came in just yesterday."
"People are telling us that the one bed in the acupuncture room won't be enough once more athletes move in to the village" Yu Jinna, one of her colleagues, said.