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
And passing through a scenic site in remote
For those in mountainous
regions, hills became best gym facilities.
With a spectacular vista opening in front of
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
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
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
unions and sponsored by the work units
system facilitated the peasants to work collectively
and carry out group activities ...
to play games ...
And to play with the PLA
Sports activities were parts of PLA's physical
Sometime it was just for a little bit fun -
Force officer and a pilot were engaging in an arm wrestling
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
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 ...
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.
behind Shi-min Fang
Day of Chinese New Year 2011