Schools in China’s Hebei province achieve fruitful results in sports-education integration

By Shi Ziqiang, People’s Daily

Pride is always shown on the face of Fang Zhihong when it comes to the topic of Olympics, because the schools in Jingxiu district, Baoding, north China’s Hebei province, where Fang serves as the head of the local education and sports bureau, have nurtured 12 Olympic and world champions, 14 Asian champions, 23 top athletes at state level and over 150 first-class athletes at state level.

Tian’e Primary School is the first school in Jingxiu district that owns a standard 200-meter patinodrome. According to principal Cui Hongyu, roller skating has been listed as a school-based curriculum since 2008, and six years later, the school started cooperating with a local roller skating club. In 2016, the school was named the roller skating training center of Baoding.

“Students can receive professional training from the club, and our school also established roller speed staking and skating societies for amateurs, which provide regular training courses,” Cui introduced.
Since 2018, the school has established a “featured class” of roller skating for first graders that offers professional training courses, and it has supplied over 40 skaters for the roller skating team of Baoding over the recent couple of years.

The sports-education integration of Jingxiu district started with the “featured classes,” developed because of the establishment of sports-themed schools, and flourished thanks to school-sports club cooperation, said GuoLiying, deputy head of Jingxiu district’s education and sports bureau.

Students of a primary school in Xingtai, north China’s Hebei province practice curling on the playground, March, 2021. (Photo by Liu Jidong/People’s Daily Online)

According to Guo, 24 out of the district’s 30 kindergartens, primary and secondary schools have established partnerships with 40 commercial sports clubs.

So far, Jingxiu district has established a sports training system that involves students in primary, secondary and high schools, which enables students at all ages to join sports training and makes the training more systematic and science-based.

Early this fall semester, a swimming contest was launched for the students of Class 3, Grade 2 at Lekai Primary School in Jingxiu district. Eight participants stood out from the crowd after two rounds of competitions. They will join the school swimming championship to be held this October on behalf of their class.

Ma Fuping, principal of the primary school told People’s Daily that classes of the school hold sports contests every week, and the winners will be able to join higher-level games.

“For instance, third grader Hu Jinni has made it to the provincial youth swimming championship held this August and ranked first in the U9 4×50 meters freestyle relay heat,” Ma said. Currently, the girl is preparing for the finals in Hengshui, another city of Hebei.

The men’s 3×3 basketball team of Baoding No. 7 Middle School bears the palm at a provincial championship, September, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Baoding No. 7 Middle School)

To promote youth sports, Jingxiu district has established a well-organized system of sports events on the basis of respecting students’ individual wills and development.

“Regular games make students eager for competition and help them make training plans for themselves,” Guo said. It is with such a mechanism that outstanding athletes are developed, Guo added.

Li Bingjie, gold medalist of swimming at the Tokyo Olympic Games, was a student of Xinshichang Primary School in Jingxiu district, and it was her great performance in school swimming competitions that earned her the opportunity to join the Hebei provincial swimming team and the Chinese national swimming team, according to Guo.

Fang told People’s Daily that the district is cooperating with the municipal sports bureau and associations to hold youth sports events, and teaming up with the provincial sports bureau to host provincial games and those for the entire Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Besides, it also works with the General Administration of Sports, the Federation of University Sports of China and national sports associations to organize state-level sports events.

Since this year, Jingxiu district has held three national events, two provincial events, one municipal events and two district events. These sports events have established a fantastic platform for sports-loving students, and offered them more opportunities for their future careers.

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