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Shenzhen ensures jobs for ex-champion athletes
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The coastal city Shenzhen in Guangdong province, plans to give employment priority to retired athletic champions of domestic and international competitions.

The city recently announced its employment plan for retired athletes .

But others that have won glory and recognition for their home cities often had difficulty finding employment after retiring from sport because physical training took precedence over education when they were young, Li Xiaofeng, a Guangzhou people's congress deputy, said.

The plan stipulates that Olympic gold medalists and winners of world championships are to be assigned work in State-owned public institutes, which are obligated to employ them.

Other similarly privileged include gold medalists at the Asian Games and National Games, athletes who have broken world, Asian or national records and who have been awarded medals of honor by the state.

The Olympic top eight, the top six world championship and world-cup winners and top three medalists of the Asian Games and National Games are among other retired athletes qualifying for recommendations from the city's human resource department and labor and social security bureau .

The plan, however, includes the precondition that retired athletes have college degrees and a good academic record .

The plight of retired athletes barely able to make ends meet was highlighted when local media discovered famous National Games gold medalist Zou Chunlan from Jilin province working at a local public bathhouse.

Zou, 37, won the women's weightlifting gold medal in the 1990 National Games and broke the national record. She was inundated with donations towards buying her own laundry after the report was published.

The Shenzhen government encourages retired athletes to study at college to make them more socially competitive after they graduate and able to live more rewarding lives.

The government guarantees allowances to athletes enrolling at college, and also financial support for a one-year stint at their original Shenzhen training centers.

Twelve Shenzhen athletes, including race walker Liu Hong, rhythmic gymnast Li Hongyang and NBA star and Chinese national basketball team member Yi Jianlian, took part in the Beijing Games.

(China Daily September 3, 2008)

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