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Air-raising action wows Shanghai crowds

Fans revel in extreme sports excitement as four-day Olympic Qualifying Series gets 'full marks' from IOC chief

By SUN XIAOCHEN in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-21 09:38
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Playing host to four action sports — skateboarding, BMX freestyle, sport climbing and breaking, the Huangpu Riverside, a dockland park in the heart of Shanghai, welcomed 464 athletes from home and abroad, as they battled it out to book their ticket to Paris. OIS/GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

Among all of the international standouts, skateboarder Jagger Eaton of the United States set himself apart from the rest of the field by finishing on two podiums. He placed first in street and third in park on Sunday, despite the short turnaround between the two disciplines.

At the packed dance arena, tight battles laid down a marker of what to expect at breaking's Olympic debut in Paris, with Dutch B-boy Lee (Lee-Lou Demierre) and Japan's veteran B-girl Ayumi (Ayumi Fukushima) winning over the judges to win the men's and women's finals, respectively.

On top of four days of thrilling sports competition, Shanghai organizers also treated fans to daily music concerts, fashion shows and junior clinics for BMX and skateboarding.

The event even captured the attention of high-profile sports fans, with basketball legend Yao Ming, former track cycling Olympic champion Zhong Tianshi and ex-national soccer team captain Fan Zhiyi among the celebrities spotted at the meet.

"It's crazy to be skating at this kind of event. This is probably the biggest one we've had so far. I wasn't at the last Olympics, but ever since the day we got here, it's kind of been like (an) Olympic feeling," Brazilian skateboarder Luigi Cini said of his experience in Shanghai.

"If I didn't know any differently, I'd say that we're at the Olympics already. This is an unreal experience," Australian BMX rider Natalya Diehm said, echoing the sentiment.

Asked to score the performances of the Shanghai organizers, Bach gave a thumbs-up without hesitation.

"The question is easy to answer, 10 out of 10. I think there can be no doubt about this," he said. "It is not a coincidence that this world debut (of the OQS) is taking place in Shanghai, because we know China is a very reliable organizer."

"We know Shanghai is a place of innovation. We know Shanghai is a city that is open to the world, and we know the people of Shanghai are passionate about sport. So, therefore, it was somehow a no-brainer to decide where we would go first," Bach said of the selection of Shanghai as host of the inaugural OQS event.

"You can see it works, and that the younger generation has found new access to Olympic sports and to the Olympic values.

"This is the result of our Olympic Agenda reforms, which are promoting sports to be more urban, more youthful, more inclusive and more sustainable. And Shanghai is one step on this road."

This sentiment was backed by the figures provided by the organizers, who noted that 30 percent of the people who attended the event were under 18 years old. Additionally, organizers said, 89 percent of the 45,000 attendees were domestic spectators.



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