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Kungfu Inches to Olympics
At the First Wushu Sanshou World Cup which ended on Saturday in Shanghai at the Luwan Gymnasium, some International Wushu Federation (IWUF) Executive Committee members expressed their confidence and optimism on the sport's entry into the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Anthony T. Goh, president of USA Wushu Federation and Pan American Wushu Federation, said the rapid development of some Asian countries and regions in the sports arena these years will help enhance the possibility of wushu, a traditional Asian sport, to get into the Olympics.

There are a total of 28 categories on the Olympic program and only two of them (judo and taekwondo) originated in the East. He believed that the current format of the world sports will change with the surge of the region and more Asian sports will come into the Olympic Family.

"The Olympic events should become more various and comprise the sports from the East and the West," he said.

Founded in 1993, the USA Wushu Federation has seen the fast progress of the sport. Usually the federation would each year hold about 10 national wushu events and each time nearly 1,000 athletes attend the competition. In 1995, the Caribbean Wushu Federation was established. Since then the Pan America Wushu Championships has been staged every two years.

"Our IWUF member federations will try our best to promote the sport and support the work to make wushu an Olympic event," he said.

Patrick Van Campenhout of Belgium, treasurer and liaison officer of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who was confident in the future of wushu, saw the issue in another prospective. Practicing wushu for 27 years, Campenhout found the great value in the sport. He said wushu can be very useful for youngsters both physically and mentally. It can also help them build character.

He said the wushu presentation at the IOC Executive Committee meeting in May was a "historical" event in wushu history. IOC president Jacques Rogge and Executive Committee members watched the glamorous performance and spoke highly of the sport, saying it is a "competitive" and "attractive" game.

"It should be fantastic to see wushu become an Olympic event," he added.

Glen Keith, President of New Zealand Chinese Martial Arts International Wushu Council, praised the efforts of the IWUF to persuade the IOC to add the sport to the 2008 Olympics.

"We have gone a long way in a short time," he said.

The IWUF, founded in 1990 in Beijing, became a member of the International Sports Federation and was provisionally recognized by the IOC in 1999. In February 2002, it was granted by the IOC at the 113th IOC Session in Salt Lake City.

Wushu has been the official medal event of the Asian Games since 1990. Starting in 1991, the World Wushu Championships has been held every two years. Continental championships are also held on a regular basis.

To date, there are 88 IWUF member federations from all continents and about 90 countries and regions have been involved in the sport.

"Though rooted in China, wushu has become an international sport," Keith said. "I am optimistic to see wushu to be included in the 2008 Olympics."

But, Yan Jianchang, general-secretary of the IWUF, said: "Honestly speaking, there are still many difficulties."

Besides wushu, another 14 events are trying to elbow into the Olympic Family. However, the IOC now is very strict with the scale of the Games and the number of the events in Summer Olympics must remain the same, which means some current Olympic events have to give way to the new ones.

"But we'll never give up till the last minute," Yan said. "There are still four months to go."

The fierce competition will be concluded at the 114th IOC General Meeting at Mexico City on November 28. The IOC will decide which events will be made official medal event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The IWUF selected eight events in taolu, formalized forms of wushu display, for the official proposal to the IOC on December 20 last year, four for men and four for women.

The men's events are Changquan, Nanquan, Daoshu (Broadsword play) and Gunshu (Cudgel play); the women's are Taiji, Changquan, Jianshu (Sword play) and Qiangshu (Spear play).

The First Wushu Sanshou World Cup, which ended on Saturday, is considered one of the most important deeds by the IWUF to enhance the influence of wushu around the world.

(China Daily July 29, 2002)

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