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China Sports
During the Cultural Revolution Years

9 January 2011
 

In the first few decades after the establishment of PRC, sports was a mass movement sponsored by all levels of government, from the state council to village production teams; and the movement was enthusiastically participated by people of all ages and across all social sectors. Its chief objective was not for competition or entertainment but to improve the health level of the nation. With this in mind, it's not hard to see why marathon used to be one of the most popular sports in China, especially during winter seasons, because it is a highly inclusive and physical-well-being oriented sport activity.

The photo shows China's marathon runners passing through nation's political heart, the Tiananmen Square ...

And passing through a scenic site in remote rural area

For those in mountainous regions, hills became best gym facilities.

With a spectacular vista opening in front of them.

For those in urban districts, open spaces were free gym studios.

For those living by streams, water in naturally formed swimming pools was fresh and unpolluted ... and the pools were accessible all seasons ...

Even during freezing snowing days ...

In summer, there were many beaches, but they were normally accessible by invitation only - which means if you worked hard and became a model worker in factory or in laboratory, you might have a chance to do nothing but lie in the sands or dip into the water.

In winter, there were many frozen ponds (such as the ones in Summer Palace and North Sea Park in Beijing). No special invitation was required to gain access - you paid 0.05 or 0.10 yuan for entry to the park and you were free to ski all the day.

By then sports/physical exercise was an integral part of people's daily life. There might be no tea time and no free biscuits in workshops, but there were physical exercise breaks twice a day and free music to help you swing your body in rhythm.

And seasonal or annual sports games organised by workers unions and sponsored by the work units

In villages, the commune system facilitated the peasants to work collectively and carry out group activities ...

And to play games ...

And to play with the PLA soldiers ...

Sports activities were parts of PLA's physical training programs.

Sometime it was just for a little bit fun - an Air Force officer and a pilot were engaging in an arm wrestling contest ...

Sometime it was a great fun ... these soldiers must come from those villages.

And, kids, of course ... little chunky boys were all too keen to demonstrate their mighty physical strength ...

Or worked as sports referrals or commentators ...

Or became star players in the field, normally twice a week as part of compulsory school subject ...

Most boys loved it ... some girls hated it ... but all did it ... and later on when looking back many think they had a freer and happier childhood comparing to kids today ... Well, you never know ...

China's achievement today does not occur in sudden and appear from nowhere. It is the result of 60 years of hard endeavour in a pioneering new social structure which helps the ancient nation to renew its strength and to reinvent its identity.

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1st Day of Chinese New Year 2011

 
 
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