Mike: the June 1/09 11:03 comment gets me wondering how the Chinese have adapted/evolved their program over time as it sounds a bit different than a National level Chinese coach I know who emigrated about 12 to 15 years ago, though it also sounds familiar in many ways. Perhaps becoming more specialized in the areas they saw/see as mostly likely to have success?
This is DEFINITELY the case. In fact, this was very obvious at the Beijing Olympics where they wanted to win the medal count and invested in sports they felt they had a better chance of winning a medal in even if it was a more obscure sport. Their Olympic and athletic administrators have actually spoken openly about this in the past 4-5 years…essentially saying that they didn’t believe that Chinese people could produce Olympic medalists in certain sports or events so they didn’t invest nearly as much in them. They largely neglect sprinting and jumping events aren’t too much better off either because their is little precedence for their success in these events.
I always marvel when he talks about the amount of education he went through, especially the hours involved. Though I think he would say he is primarily a throws coach, believe me he is more than competent in vertical jumps (though I have never seen him near a vault pit), as well as sprints and hurdles. From him it sounds like a full apprenticeship style of teaching “new” coaches where he literally spent hundreds of hours learning to coach each throw but even the “lesser” events he knows were covered in great depth in class but also more practically in the field.
My understanding is that you’d essentially learn everything at a lower level but would focus on one event. In American terms it would be like getting a USATF Level 1 certification which briefly goes over every event and then getting a Level 2 (or 3?) certification in just one specific event.
If I may, how did you get the opportunity for what I trust was a very enjoyable trip? Or have the Chinese become that much more open to foreigners? Ask partially as when the coach mentioned above talked of “emigrating”, it sounds like it was a bit of an escape from a closed society.
They are definitely more open than 20 or even 10 years ago. I heard this from practically everyone. For the most part things operate like a democratized Western culture. There are restrictions though that remind you that the government can rule with a tight fist if it wished. How did I get the opportunity? I was asked and I jumped at it. I’m pretty much an opportunity whore 😉 I try not to let anything pass by.