Chinese Preparing for New Year’s Gala
Doha, QAT AGU office, February 02, 2011: Every year the Chinese gymnastics team celebrates the traditional Chinese New Year with a party. Gymnasts, coaches and staff produce an exhibition with songs, dance, skits and interactive games.
The gala allows the athletes to show their personalities to the public, and it always attracts the attention of media and fans. The party is usually held a few days prior to New Year’s Eve and the gymnasts are all busy preparing for it now! (According to the Chinese Zodiac, The Year of the Rabbit officially begins Feb. 3.)
The format of the party has changed a lot, from singing odes to the Great Country together to lively and fashionable variety shows. Chinese women’s head coach Lu Shanzhen recently wrote about several impressive scenes from the past gymnastics New Year’s parties in his blog:
One year in the middle of 1980s, every training group was required to produce a show during the party, which was held in a classroom. A group with gymnasts who are newly on the team was having difficulties creating a show, so looked to their coaches, a couple who recently returned from France, Lin Xuan and Shi Mao. The couple stepped onto the stage spontaneously to show ballroom dancing to the team. They fondly held each other’s waists and danced elegantly with dizzying twists. Everybody was shocked and thought it was extremely fancy and absolutely impressive. But nowadays when this story is told to the gymnasts, they just find it ridiculous and laugh at the ignorance of people at that time.
Cheng Fei’s First-Ever Show
Cheng Fei first impressed others at the New Year’s party. It was in 2001. Team members were not quite eager to produce shows on the party so the administrators were pushing more people to participate. On the very day of the show, Cheng Fei told coach Liu Qunlin that she would like to sing the theme song of a famous TV show “The Great Household” in the exhibition. The coaches were muddled by her because this theme is very difficult with many high parts. Though with trepidation, Fei was allowed to perform because of the firm expression in her eyes. There was even no time to find a piece of music to accompany.
Fei went onto the stage confidently to sing with ease, and accompanied her show with pretty poses. But at last little Fei was not able to handle the high parts, and she ceased singing. However, her courage and eagerness impressed the coaches and the audience.
Yang Yun and “Nunchaku”
In 2003, Yang Yun led a group of fashionable guys to perform with nunchucks at the party. Nunchucks are a martial arts weapon, but more significantly, the name of an extremely popular rap song by Taiwanese star Jay Chou. The performers sang, shouted and danced brightly while the gymnasts applauded like thunders and tides. But the coaches and administrators could not understand it at all — that’s how a generation gap works!
Every year there are plenty of prizes prepared for the lottery. In the 1980s, everybody would be excited for a diary. With the improvement of living conditions, small appliances brought extra excitement to the parties. Later the prizes became TV sets, photo and video cameras, but now people are used to them. It is because the living conditions in China changed a lot through the years, and there’s no longer a lack of high-end electronics.
But there’s another interesting thing: every year the top prize went to little gymnasts who were not stars and only on the national team temporarily. They didn’t go to the training camp for no purpose – after one or two months they went back home with the grand prizes! Gymnasts with big names rarely win in the lottery, to the contrary.
Written by Hu Yizhou for International Gymnast Magazine