Sailing, windsurfing chart courses to success

By LIN SHUJUAN in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-17 08:02
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Han Jing, left, head coach of the Shanghai Jing'an sailing team, explains the technical skills used by the Chinese team to win the gold medal in the women's rowing fours at the Tokyo Olympics. CHINA DAILY

Talent pool

According to Liu Xiaoma, a former coach to the national sailing team and director of the Shanghai Water Sports Center, which oversees the development of sailing sports in the municipality, sailing is poised to make major advances in China, as it is on the right development track.

Sailing started in the nation as a competitive activity that relied mainly on State-sponsored sports schools for the cultivation of talent, but the situation started to change in the years before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when concerted efforts to promote the sport expanded the talent pool.

The introduction of the Optimist Class for sailors age 6 to 15 in major competitions also helped raise interest and participation in the sport. Any sailor, regardless of whether he or she is a registered athlete, member of a yachting club, or a self-trained individual, can take part in such competitions, said Liu, one of the country's first professional sailors.

Optimist Class programs for young sailors have emerged steadily in athletics schools in coastal cities such as Qingdao, Shandong-province, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Xiamen, Fujian province, and Shanghai.

In 2012, the Jing'an Youth Amateur Athletic School in Shanghai founded its sailing team, and now holds a recruitment drive every four years. The team has more than 40 members, including Jerry Shi, the 9-year-old, who joined in 2019.

Liu said that combined with other teams run by district-level amateur athletic schools and the professional team organized by the Shanghai Sports School, the municipality has some 1,000 registered amateur and full-time sailing and windsurfing athletes.

The social sector has also become involved. For example, yachting clubs play a crucial role in promoting sailing through affordable training programs.

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