Beyond Gold: The Golden Story from China's Sports Field

Zhenyu LiContributor IIIJuly 24, 2012

China is a large sports nation and a powerhouse in Olympic sports.

The Asian Giant led the gold medal count at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, capturing 51 golds. At the Los Angeles, Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics, China came fourth in the gold medal tally, respectively, and at the Athens Olympics, moved up to the second spot.


Major Games

Although China has long been associated with the martial arts, a large number of sports activities, both Western and traditionally Chinese, are enjoying high popularity in today's China.

Basketball, soccer, tennis and table tennis are the main sports in China. In the past few years, China's boxing has achieved a series of historical breakthroughs in the Olympics.

Traditional sports with distinct Chinese characteristics are also very popular, including martial arts, taijiquan and qigong.


The Business Side

Prior to the 1990s, sports in China, as in some other countries, were completely government-funded.

The situation began to change in 1994 when Chinese football became the first sport to take the road of professionalization, and in its wake, similar reforms were carried out in basketball, volleyball and pingpong, among others.


The process brought with it commercialization: sport associations became profit-making entities and a club system came into being; professional leagues formed, improving China's sports environment; and commercial management systems took shape. The professionalization of sports has encouraged the emergence of a sports management market and business-structured system.

Another result of the reform is that Chinese athletes are allowed to join foreign professional leagues.


The Intro

This sports documentary series will take you on an exotic Chinese journey to explore the untold stories on this legendary sporting field, from the most popular, to the most particular, all beyond gold.

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Zhenyu Li, a contributing columnist for some of the world's foremost sports publications, authors the "Beyond Gold" column for People's Daily Online in China.