Student Games concludes with hope for future
Published: Nov 16, 2023 10:43 PM
Wu Yanni, Student Games Photo: VCG

Wu Yanni, Student Games Photo: VCG

China's first Student (Youth) Games concluded on Wednesday in Nanning, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Drawing about 20,000 young players, the Games awarded 805 gold medals across various sports. 

The Games showcased outstanding athletic achievements and the deepening integration of sports and education in China. Young athletes from different regions and schools competed and interacted in a display of youthful vitality. 

The Games marked the merging and upgrading of the National Youth Games and the National Student Games, providing a high-level competitive platform for young sports talents in China. Notably, 11 world youth records were exceeded, one world record was tied, and three Asian records were bettered.

Among all the 69 delegations participating in the open group, 64 won medals, with 54 winning gold medals. Delegations from the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions won gold medals in the equestrian events and swimming events, respectively.

Additionally, a number of national records, national youth records and national juvenile records were set in sports such as shooting, track and field and weightlifting. In the campus group, all 34 delegations won medals, with 30 winning gold.

The first gold medal of the Games was won in Beihai, Guangxi, where 19-year-old Huang Yaoshu from the Haikou team won the men's longboard surfing event, leading the runner-up by nearly five points. 

In less than half a year since he started surfing in July 2017, Huang was selected for the Provincial Surfing Team of Hainan, the southernmost island province of China. As a kid who grew up in a fishing village, he had a natural love for surfing, but he said that he was not a talented athlete and so had to train hard for a long time. He noted that mastering a new move gives him a sense of accomplishment.

In Mashan county of Guangxi, 14-year-old Li Yantan from Guling Town Junior High School, a rural school surrounded by cliffs and precipices, excelled in rock climbing. The girl from the Zhuang ethnic group improved her performance from 11.90 seconds in the preliminaries to 10.91 seconds in the finals, securing a gold medal. Her coach, Wu Guoyong, mentioned that Li had been training in rock climbing since primary school and had shown significant improvement over the past five years.

The Games serve as an important opportunity to showcase the development of youth sports in China and represent the latest attempt at integrating sports and education. This integration is crucial for the overall development and growth of young athletes in the country, sport commentator Luo Le told the Global Times.

Luo noted that the Games provide an excellent platform for selecting talents for China's competitive sports industry. It offers young athletes a rare opportunity to gain experience in major competitions, which is vital for their development and future success in sports.

Chinese star hurdler Wu Yanni, who won the women's 100-meter hurdles during the Games, hit back at online criticism after her win.

"Some people online were saying, 'Don't jump the gun again this time.' But I was thinking, even if I did, so what?" 

Wu was disqualified for a false start at the 19th Asian Games held in Hangzhou in October. She gained supports for her confidence and straightforwardness after her public push back at the Student (Youth) Games. 

The environment in which the current generation of young athletes is growing up is significantly different from that of earlier athletes. These athletes are maturing in an era dominated by new media, and they themselves are examples of how to spread the spirit and culture of sports to the wider youth community, experts said. 

"As representatives of the new generation and the future of China's sports industry, they play a pivotal role in guiding younger athletic talents. The channels through which they exert their influence and promote sports have evolved, reflecting the broader trends in societal development," said Luo.

"These athletes are not only embracing but also shaping the societal trends in sports, effectively communicating the values and culture of sports to the youth of today. The Games have also been a part of that chain," Luo said.