World / China-Brazil

Sports expertise strengthens Sino-Brazil ties

By Sun Xiaochen in Dongguan, Guangdong province ( Updated: 2015-05-20 12:27

Hitting cross-net drops to dictate the play before smashing to kill, Brazilian shuttler Ygor Coelho de Oliveira's game at the 2015 Sudirman Cup displayed many of the characteristics of a Chinese player.

Thanks to practicing with a Chinese coach during last year's Nanjing Youth Olympics, Oliveira's firepower at the tournament, the world mixed-team championships, has progressed with more than a little bit of Chinese flavor.

The tall teenager who was born in a favela near Rio de Janeiro explained that the Chinese tips he learned nine months ago have benefited his game.

"That experience (at the Nanjing YOG) was amazing,'' he said and praised the work of his Chinese trainer Sun Jun. "He taught me defensive moves and how to improve my net shots. It's my first time practicing with a Chinese trainer and I hope to have more of these opportunities," the 18-year-old told China Daily from the sidelines of the Sudirman Cup in Dongguan, Guangdong province.

Thanks to growing Sino-Brazil sports exchanges in recent years, more and more young hopefuls like Oliveira have benefited from the export of Chinese expertise in badminton and table tennis.

Oliveira's doubles partner Alex Yuwan Tjong, whose grandparents from both sides are Chinese, echoed his teammate views, attributing the rise of badminton's appeal in the soccer-mad country to the influence of local Chinese communities.

"The Chinese heritage in my blood makes me feel more connected to the sport," said Tjong, who traveled to China twice in 2006 and 2012 to train with provincial teams.

According to Tjong, Chinese communities built around industrial clusters of Chinese enterprises such as IT giant Huawei in Brazil have played a significant role in promoting badminton despite the traditional dominance of soccer and volleyball.

Though China hasn't officially sent any coach to help the Brazil national team, amateur tournaments organized by NGOs and Chinese companies have helped promote the sport among the public, said Tjong.

Jointly initiated by the San Paulo Asian Cultural Center and local badminton federation, the annual "Copa Yawen" tournament  concluded its second edition in November 2014 bringing together hundreds of Brazilian and Chinese amateur players.

Be it on the badminton court or at ping pong tables, Chinese technique and experience have contributed to Brazil's improvement in the sport where China has been a traditional powerhousee.

Introduced by then Brazilian national team coach Wei Jianren, former Guangxi provincial team paddler Gui Lin  moved to the Latin American country in 2005, and has become a formidable member on the women's squad since acquiring Brazilian citizenship in 2012.

"Thanks to coach Wei's long-term commitment to improving the game in Brazil over two decades, table tennis has drawn widespread interest and funding from the government as a promising sport at next year's Olympics (in Rio de Janeiro)," said Gui, dual gold medalist in female singles and doubles at the Latin American Table Tennis Cup earlier this year.

Wei, a former star of China's army team who settled in Brazil in the late 1980s, has nurtured a group of elite paddlers to win medals at Latin American Championships and Pan American Games.

His contribution to Brazil's athletic achievements has earned him accolades from the head of the Brazil Olympic Committee and from Ligia Silva, a three-time Olympian.

"Chinese coaching expertise has been extremely important in helping us and popularizing the game in Brazil," she said.

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