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Chinese sailing weaning new stars

QINGDAO: While top sailors from all over the world compete to reach their Olympic dreams on Fushan Bay in Qingdao, local youngsters are working hard to become one of them in the future.

The boys and girls, mostly elementary and middle school students, spent almost all their school vacation at a summer camp to learn theories and practice sailing skills.

Zhang Lu, an 11-year-old girl, won third place in her age group at last year`s Qingdao Aquatic Sports Youth Sailing Competition, an amazing performance since at the time she had only trained for two months.

"As she ranked in the top three after only two months, I must say Zhang Lu has a really good talent for sailing," her coach Liu Yuanyuan told China Daily.

In the beginning Zhang learned sailing just for fun, but quickly found it rewarding. Others saw a change in her.

"She has become more outgoing and quick-minded," said Liu.

Zhang is determined to develop into a star sailor one day.

"I have a strong interest in sailing and I do hope someday I can become a professional and participate in the Olympics," said Zhang.

Twelve-year-old Huang Shihao, who is on the same team as Zhang, said "it`s so great - just like flying".

"I watch international sailing competitions on TV. My favorite event is Yngling. I dream of being one of the top sailing athletes," said Huang.

There are many other youngsters who have developed a passion for sailing in Qingdao. They study sailing at school and practice at sea over summer vacation. Many have turned in excellent performances, with some chosen by the Shandong Sailing Team, soon to begin their careers as sailing athletes.

In July each year, 10 outstanding young sailors go to Kiel, a coastal city in northern Germany, famous for its long seafaring history, to learn from German sailors.

Over the past three years the Qingdao Municipal Government has worked hard to promote sailing among youngsters. Forty-two schools now offer courses in sailing, while 80 yacht clubs have sprung up for elementary and middle school students. There are more than 2,000 young sailing enthusiasts in Qingdao, Liu said.

"The seas of Qingdao will be the birthplace of famous Chinese sailors," Liu said.

 
Date:2008-8-14 8:24:00     
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