New sports breakthrough at Hangzhou games
It is no surprise that China topped the medal tally of the Asian Games, but some medals might be more valuable than a gold, because it means more breakthrough.
The medals won by the Chinese climbing team were fine examples. When climbing first appeared at the Tokyo Summer Olympics two years ago, China had only two athletes attending the events, and neither of them reached the final.
Two years later in Hangzhou, however, the Chinese team won two gold, two silver and a bronze medal.
In the speed relay events, both the women's and men's teams of China claimed gold – both defeating their Indonesian rivals. The gold medal in the men's event was obtained somewhat out of luck, because one of the Indonesian climbers made a false start; while the women's team went through a tougher trial as they came from behind and fought to the last second.
"In fact, the Indonesia team was stronger than us in general," said Zhang Shaoqin, who attended the women's speed relay. "But if we didn't try, then we would really lose the gold."
Meanwhile, Pan Yufei won a bronze medal in the Men's Boulder and Lead. The 23-year-old was one of the two Chinese athletes who attended the Tokyo Olympics and he surpassed himself this games.
"I still had some mistakes during the competition and I found that I could be more confident about myself," Pan said. "In fact, after the Olympics, I had a period of downtime last year, but now I'm getting better. I know that I still have much space for improvement but I believe that hardworking will pay off eventually."
Breakdancing was another pleasant surprise for the Chinese delegation. Liu Qingyi, 17, claimed women's breakdancing gold medal at the games. Before that, she had won a silver in the 2022 WDSF World Breaking Championships earlier.
Both climbing and breakdancing are newly rising sports in China – as well as new events in the Olympic Games. However, both items are building up a larger base in the country.
China now has much more climbing and breakdancing athletes than before the Tokyo Olympic Games – there are nearly 2,000 registered climbers and more than 12,000 breakdancers. Athletes attend more international events than ever and various competitions are held domestically as well.
Meanwhile, more amateurs are joining such new sports as well. Take climbing for example, every year more than 1 million people join the sports – and more than 1,100 venues are available for them around the country.
"I believe climbing is the most direct reflection of your muscle power," said James Wang, a climbing fan in Shanghai for more than five years. "You have to have strong core strength, arm and leg strength – and a quick mind, too, because you have to select a route quickly and accurately."
Breakdancing has also cultivated a large group of participants and supporters.
"It's hard to popularize breakdancing from a competition perspective because it just looks like hip-hop," said Liu Qingyi after her medal. "But if we managed to convey the charm of breakdancing to the spectators then it's good enough."
Shang Xiaoyu, leader of the Chinese national breakdancing team, said that for the past five years, he felt that they had a "bigger stage and bigger goals." Although she did not claim any medals in Hangzhou, the 23-year-old dancer from Shanghai has gained a ticket to Paris Olympic Qualifying Match.
"When I was 18, I was thinking it'd be a miracle if I could stand on the stage of the Olympic Games," he said. "And now the miracle may become real and I'll be fully prepared for it."