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President Hu boosts morale of country's Olympians as Games near
2008/07/24

BEIJING, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday paid a morale-boosting visit to domestic athletes busy training for the upcoming Olympic Games, saying he was looking forward to their good performances.

    With 16 days to go until the Games opening ceremony, Hu, accompanied by Vice President Xi Jinping, went to the stadiums of the Training Bureau of the General Administration of Sport in southern Beijing in the morning. He watched training programs of athletes in gymnastics artistic, synchronized swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, basketball and volleyball.

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday paid a morale-boosting visit to domestic athletes busy training for the upcoming Olympic Games, saying he was looking forward to their good performances.

Chinese President Hu Jintao talks with one of the gymnasts at the gymnastics stadium on Wedneday. He paid a morale-boosting visit to domestic athletes busy training for the upcoming Olympic Games, saying he was looking forward to their good performances. (Xinhua Photo)

    "Your moves are clear-cut and very elegant. I wish you success at the Games," he told 16-year-old He Kexin after she performed a set of routines with perfect technique on the uneven bars at the gymnastics stadium. The teenager won two World Cup titles earlier this year.

    Hu expressed his hope that the gymnasts and coaches would train hard with high efficiency to improve their competition skills.

    "Keep a cool state of mind and achieve outstanding results at the Games," he told them.

    The training bureau boasts 15 stadiums where athletic teams in 11 events from 14 countries were training for the Games.

    At the basketball stadium, the president was attracted by the swift moves by the players of the men's national basketball team. He voiced concerns for star player Yao Ming who suffered a foot injury in February.

    "The whole nation is very concerned about your foot. How is it going now?" Hu asked the star center with the Houston Rockets.

    "It's okay," Yao replied. The NBA star played his second match after coming back from injury on Saturday in the eastern city of Hangzhou, scoring 16 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes against Angola.

    Hu told Yao he needed to be more careful in future training and matches.

    He expressed high hopes for the men's national basketball team, which also includes NBA stars Wang Zhizhi and Yi Jianlian.

    "We Chinese people pay lots of attention to basketball and expect your superb performance in matches. I hope you can show your best at the Games," Hu told them.

    At the swimming stadium, Hu watched the performance of synchronized swimmers and extended gratitude to head coach Masayo Imura from Japan.

    "We are here today to give a boost to your spirits," Hu told the swimmers. "We are happy to learn that you have improved rapidly under the guidance of head coach Masayo Imura. I propose that we give a big applause to her to express our sincere thanks."

    The 58-year-old coach, dubbed the "godmother" of Japanese synchronized swimming, started coaching her country's synchronized swim team in 1978. She helped her swimmers to eight Olympic medals over the past 30 years.

    Imura started coaching in China after the 2006 Doha Asian Games in which China dethroned long-time Asian champion Japan in both the duet and team competitions.

    Last month, she reiterated her hopes for medals at the Beijing Olympics, saying Chinese swimmers would help present a modern and dynamic China with their performance.

    Hu praised Imura for her coaching and role in promoting sports exchanges and friendship between China and Japan.

    "I believe that China's synchronized swimming team will give an outstanding performance at the Games under the guidance of Ms. Masayo Imura."

    Imura pledged she would do her utmost to lead China's team to achieve good results.

    At the table tennis stadium, Hu urged on the players from a sport that China has dominated, winning 16 Olympic gold medals over the years. On the team are such top players as Wang Nan and Zhang Yining.

    "I hope you can have more exchanges with athletes from other countries and regions to work together for boosting the development of table tennis in the world," he said.

    "I'm looking forward to your good news."

    Hu also visited the weightlifting athletes and women's volleyball players.

    Athens Games weightlifting gold medal winner Chen Yanqing told the president "Just watch me at the Games!" While Feng Kun, captain of the national women's volleyball team, told Hu: "We will repay the motherland and the people with the best results."

    Chinese athletes have qualified to compete in all 262 events within the 28 Olympic sports, marking the first time that the country's athletes are represented across the board at an Olympics. The Chinese national delegation at the Beijing Games will also be the largest in the country's Olympic history.

    At the training venues on Wednesday, Hu also visited the athletes' dining hall and rehabilitation center, urging the cooks to continue to prepare delicious meals and the doctors to provide thoughtful services.

    He also voiced strong support for anti-doping.

    "Anti-doping is a precondition for hosting a successful Games," he said after signing his name on a scroll for anti-doping. "As the host nation, China is obliged to set a good example in this regard."

    "We must ensure the Chinese delegation attend the Games cleanly and make positive contributions to safeguard the purity of the Olympics."

    Apart from boosting morale of the country's athletes, the president had shown concerns for the preparatory work at Olympic venues.

    During a visit to the eastern city of Qingdao on Sunday, the venue of the Olympic sailing event, Hu highly praised the use of renewable energy and environment-friendly material in the buildings of the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center. He urged the center staff to make greater efforts for the preparations.

    Starting in mid-June, the coast of Qingdao was coated with a vast algae coming from the Yellow Sea. A bright green covering of algae smothered beaches and extended out several hundred meters. It once covered 32 percent of the sailing venue at the peak of the outbreak.

    Hu expressed satisfaction with the efforts Qingdao had made to clean the seawater and make it qualified for the sailing event, and urged local authorities to continue to keep alert.

    He also encouraged Chinese athletes to achieve good results and voiced sincere welcome for foreign athletes.

    "The Chinese people are showing their warm welcome to athletes from all over the world. We will do our best to provide good service for you," he told some foreign athletes who were training at the center.

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