In Putian, waking the dormant prestige of Acrobatic Gymnastics31/03/2016
As Putian prepares to host the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships, organisers are hoping the event renews a dormant prestige for Acro, a traditional Chinese art.
Hosting Worlds will put Acrobatic Gymnastics in the spotlight in China, said Zhang Hongliang, one of the chief organisers of the 2016 World Championships, which begins Friday in the southern seaside city. "We are trying to develop the sport," he added. "Because it is not an Olympic sport, we have had more and more difficulty during the past years."
The Putian Sports Complex, decked for the 2016 Acro Worlds
The strong Chinese team, which won back-to-back World Acro titles in Men’s Group competition in 2012 and 2014, is in the hunt for multiple medals at its “home” World Championships. China is one of only a few countries to have entered athletes in every discipline (Men’s and Women’s Pairs, Mixed Paris and Men’s and Women’s Groups) in Putian.
In a recent interview with the FIG, Zhang took time to reflect on China’s standing in the Acrobatic World, and what having the World Championships means to the Putian region.
Q: What was the impetus for Putian to bid for the 2016 Acro Worlds?
Zhang: "Putian is in the Fujian Province, and Acrobatic Gymnastics is a traditional sport in this province. There were many glorious achievements in the 1990s: For example, the Men's Pair Song Min and Li Renjie from Fujian Province obtained several World titles. Also, Putian is a very open place. By organizing the World Championships, they hope that people all over the world get to know the city better.”
Q: Is Acrobatic Gymnastics popular in China?
Zhang: “It was. However, during the past 15 years, the number of participants was shrinking due to less media exposure and fewer sponsors. Now things are getting better. We're promoting this sport in schools and colleges, and it does work! Acrobatic Gymnastics has become a favorite and popular sport among many students because it's really beautiful and attractive.”
Mixed Pair Shen Yunyun and Wei Wenhui (CHN) at the 2014 Worlds
Q: Has anything changed to make it easier to draw attention to non-Olympic sports like Acro?
Zhang: "One important thing in the recent few years are the new leaders, who are paying more attention to sport. It's a good opportunity. The parents too are changing their minds. Before, it was about paying more attention to learning and studying and less to sports."
Q: Do the gymnasts seem nervous or excited about having a World Championship in their backyard?
Zhang: "Each gymnast might be more or less nervous. The key is how to solve the problem, how to transfer the pressure when you're nervous. If you can transfer your nervousness and make it excitement, it's a good solution."
Q: What can gymnasts look forward to about Putian?
Zhang: "The food! The flavor. In this place, the popular food is seafood. It is also the hometown of Mazu, the Chinese goddess of the sea, who was born in Meizhou Bay, Putian City. It's also famous for wood carving, and its Arts and Crafts City, a big market. It's a very beautiful city with a very beautiful environment."
Q: And friendly people?
Zhang (grinning): "Sure!"
Follow all the action
|01/04/2016 03/04/2016||25th Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships 2016||PUTIAN CITY (CHN)||ACRO|