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Nationwide talent search underway

By SUN XIAOCHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-20 07:59
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China's Shi Xiaoxuan  skates in the women's 500m speed skating event at the first winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Jan 14, 2012. [Photo/VCG]

China's top sports governing body is rolling out a national program to select amateur athletes for 11 events at the upcoming summer Youth Olympic Games.

As the International Olympic Committee promotes the YOG as a celebration of youth for sports and cultural exchange, China has ramped up efforts to get more young people involved by launching the "Bring me to the Youth Olympics" talent selection process.

Swimming, athletics, five-a-side soccer and 3-on-3 basketball are among the 11 events on the official program of the Oct 6-18 YOG in Buenos Aires.

China's governing associations for each sport will soon release drafting methods and entry standards on their websites and will organize qualification trials between late April and early July, the General Administration of Sport of China announced on Thursday.

Any youngster aged 15-18, after meeting the entry standards with official certificates, can sign up to participate in the trials.

"It's the first time we have extended our Olympic selection process to the entire society beyond the professional sports system," said Qing Shanglin, deputy director of the GASC's youth department.

"It's an effort to expand the influence of the Youth Olympics and to widen access for young sports enthusiasts to participate in an international gala. Hopefully, it will also provide more opportunities to identify talent outside of the traditional State-run system."

The IOC launched the Youth Olympics in 2007 as a youth equivalent of the Olympics for athletes aged 14-18, with an emphasis on cultural, educational and social functions in conjunction with athletic excellence.

Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, hosted the last summer edition of the YOG in 2014 following its 2010 debut in Singapore. The inaugural winter YOG took place in Lillehammer, Norway, in 2016.

Some YOG disciplines, such as 3-on-3 basketball and sports climbing, have taken off in terms of grassroots participation in China since being showcased in Nanjing.

According to the Chinese Basketball Association, the 2017-18 3-on-3 National Challenge Tournament has involved 4,395 men's and women's teams competing in the regional preliminary stages and provincial finals.

After the national finals in Shenzhen on April 21-22, the CBA will draft 16-player rosters for each of the boys' and girls' YOG programs.

Through intensive training and testing, those rosters will be trimmed to four players on each side by late September, and they will represent China in Buenos Aires.

"The YOG selection will benefit from the development of 3-on-3 basketball among the youth," said Chai Wensheng, director of the 3-on-3 department of CBA. "To have a shot to represent the country at the YOG will further encourage people to get on the court to play more."

After being tested and promoted at the YOG, urban-based new sports like 3x3 basketball, sports climbing and skateboarding have been voted to join the official Olympics program, starting with the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The open trials for the 2018 YOG will serve as a rehearsal for a wider-scale talent search of new sports for future Olympics, said Qing.

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