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Festival of cool hits Shanghai streets

Sports and fashion collide as city stages Olympic qualifying event for breaking, BMX, skateboarding and climbing

By HE QI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-14 09:21
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B-girl Liu Qingyi performs en route to winning breaking gold at the Asian Games last year. Liu is expected to be among the Chinese competitors at May's Olympic Qualifier Series in Shanghai. [Photo/Xinhua]

Shanghai will experience the adrenalin of rush of urban sports when the city hosts the Olympic Qualifier Series (OQS) at the Huangpu Riverside venue from May 16-19.

Featuring BMX freestyle, skateboarding, breaking and sport climbing, the OQS offers athletes the chance to book a spot at this summer's Paris Olympics, with Hungarian capital Budapest hosting the second stop, from June 20-23.

"We are excited to be back in Shanghai. Every time we come here, we can feel the energy of the city and the level of preparation. The OQS is the ultimate stage on the road to Paris 2024. It is more than a sports event, it is a showcase of the DNA of these four urban sports which are very popular among the younger generation," said Pierre Fratter-Bardy, Olympic Games strategy & development associate director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"The series offers a new Olympic immersive experience, where sport is blended with music, art and culture in a single urban park. The Huangpu Riverside venue has it all, it is a fantastic place and a perfect setup for the inaugural edition of the OQS," he added.

Luo Wenhua, deputy director general of the Shanghai Administration of Sports, described the concept behind the OQS as "youth, urbanity and openness".

"These four competition events are urban sports, and you can see young people enjoying skateboarding, breaking and other activities on the streets and alleys. Shanghai is also a very young city, so there is a strong connection between these young trendy sports and the city itself," Luo said.

"In addition, we hope to attract more young people to these sports. They can experience this really special open space in our city and enjoy sports under the sunshine thanks to the staging of this elite-level tournament," he added.

Located on a section of the site that staged the 2010 World Expo, the Huangpu Riverside venue was specially redesigned for the OQS event, with organizers keen to strike a balance between generating a festival atmosphere and meeting the rigorous competition standards of the IOC.

"The Olympic Agenda 2020+5 of the IOC talks about the concept of a sports festival before integrating the elements of the competition. I think this is a very good idea but full of challenges because it is completely new," Luo explained.

Luo said that spectators can expect to immerse themselves in a warm atmosphere of sports, art, music and culture.

"We are in constant discussions with colleagues from the IOC and relevant organizations, talking about the best ways to entice people to this urban park, not only to watch events but also to stay and have fun," he added.

Spectators will be treated to the very best in urban sports at the OQS event.

As of Tuesday, 288 athletes had signed up to compete in BMX freestyle, sport climbing and breaking.

They include Olympic BMX men's freestyle champion Logan Martin, Anthony Jeanjean, the winner of this year's UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup Enoshima leg in men's freestyle, and B-boy Wing, last year's champion at the WDSF Asian Breaking Championships.

Chinese athletes, such as BMX freestyle park world champion Deng Yawen, and the captain of the Chinese national breaking team, Shang Xiaoyu, will also be hoping to punch their tickets to Paris 2024.

"Competing on the Olympic stage has always been my goal. I've been preparing for such a long time, since 2018, so I want to do myself justice and I am really looking forward to the event," said Shang.

The Shanghai native added that he is also raring to try out his new moves in front of the home crowd.

"The points competitions I participated in before were all held in foreign countries, and the local athletes would always receive thunderous cheers when they entered the competition area. This time, I hope I can experience the same welcome," Shang said.

Teenage pop star and actor Wang Yibo, who is also a skateboarding and street dance enthusiast, is an ambassador for the event and will participate in promotional activities.

About 800 volunteers will be selected from 7,543 applicants to serve at the event, with tickets expected to go on sale in early April.



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