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Champions join fitness program
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Don't be surprised if you see Guo Jingjing running next to you in your local gym some day soon.

Guo, China's most successful diver and dubbed the "diving queen", revealed she is going to visit gyms in 358 residential areas in 35 cities and 22 provinces in China to share her passion of keeping fit with the public.

"We will spend at least seven days a year in the communities to do exercises with the people there," Guo told China Daily at the launch of a national fitness program initiated by the State General Administration of Sports of China (SGAS) on Saturday. "It's impossible for me to teach diving in the gym but we can share the joy of body building," said the diver who will seek her fifth Olympic gold medal at the London Games in 2012.

Joining Guo in the program are a handful of other Chinese household names including gymnastics world and Olympic champion Cheng Fei and head coach of the national shooting team and three-time Olympic gold medalist Wang Yifu.

They will be aided by thousands of professional trainers who have volunteered to join the program and will travel to different gyms and help people with their exercise regimes.

According to the SGAS, the program will start in Beijing and then spread to the rest of China. A total of 40,000 free tickets to local fitness clubs will be handed out to the public.

Thousands of people in Beijing witnessed the launch of the program and had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to exercise with China's sports stars on Saturday.

"It (aerobics) suddenly became much more interesting and much easier. I hope we can meet them again in the gym," a middle-aged woman said after doing aerobics with Yang Yilin, a member of the gold-winning gymnastics team who also won bronze on the uneven bars at last year's Beijing Olympics.

Feng Jianzhong, SGAS deputy director, said the government has intentionally placed great importance on mass sports after the Beijing Games.

"The passion of our Chinese people for sports reached its peak during the Beijing Games; we want to carry it forward," Feng told China Daily.

"We hope not only the athletes, but also common people will form the habit of doing sports, to feel the excitement and keep fit."

After topping the gold medal tally at last year's Beijing Olympic Games for the first time, China has expanded its focus from competitive sports to mass sports, calling on more and more people to take part in and benefit from daily exercise by launching such programs.

August 8, the opening date of 2008 Beijing Games, has been named National Fitness Day and various activities were held all over the country to mark the anniversary this month, including fitness lectures, table tennis competitions and a chance to seek help from sports scientists.

(China Daily August 17, 2009)

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