30 October 2010

MOU between Singapore Sports School and Shi Chai Hai Sports School

It's all about training smart, says China sports official@Straits Times

IT MAY come as a surprise to some, but China's star hurdler Liu Xiang only trains up to two hours a day.

Contrary to popular belief, long training does not equate to good results, a top Chinese sports official said yesterday.

'High quantity of training isn't the important thing. What's important is applying science to training, and having very focused training,' said Shi Chai Hai Sports School principal Li Guicheng in Mandarin.

The former track athlete and coach, a close friend of Liu's coach Sun Haiping, was speaking at the Sino-Singapore Sports Symposium at Raffles City Convention Centre.

It was held in conjunction with celebrations to mark 20 years of diplomatic relations between China and Singapore.

Addressing representatives from national sports associations and Singapore Sports Council senior management, including deputy chairman Cheah Kim Teck, Liu stressed that most elite Olympic-level athletes at Beijing's Shi Chai Hai Sports School do not train for more than two hours daily. For most junior athletes who are starting out, training is capped at three hours daily.

'It's very tiring on the brain if you train too long,' said the 56-year-old, who is also president of the Beijing Boxing Association and secretary-general of the city's Taekwondo Association.

'We found this out about 10 years ago, when many athletes got injured.'

His school is one of more than 200 government-funded elite sports schools across China. But it is among the best, having produced 33 world champions including Olympic and world champion table tennis star Zhang Yining.

Olympic gymnast He Kexin, Hollywood star and wushu national champion Jet Li, and Singapore paddler Li Jiawei are other notable alumni.

Singapore officials welcomed Li's comments, with SSC chief executive officer Oon Jin Teik calling his own thinking 'outdated' at times.

'We talk about full-time training, but now he's talked about productivity and focused training,' the former Olympic swimmer said.

Speaking directly to officials from several sports bodies, Oon added: 'What you have heard today is the thinking of the powerhouse of sports. Please take it back to homebase.'

Singapore Athletic Association vice-president (training and selection) C. Kunalan said most of his elite athletes are already training two hours a day.

'But something's lacking - the application of sports science that's available.

'We need to change the mindsets of coaches and athletes to include this,' said the former 100m national record-holder and Olympian.

Singapore Sports School director of sports Irwin Seet felt the two-hour principle could not be applied across all sports.

Li also signed a memorandum of understanding with SSP principal Deborah Tan.

There will be student and teacher exchanges between the two institutions with immediate effect.

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