Building deep foundations

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More than a year has passed since Su Yiming made history by becoming China's first Olympic champion in men's snowboard Big Air at Beijing 2022.

Now the 19-year-old is truly a sports superstar, as evidenced by the throng of fans who mobbed him upon his return to Big Air Shougang, where he rose to prominence and also bagged slope-style silver at the Games. Everywhere he went, fans clamored to obtain his autograph on their helmets, caps and clothes, and jostled to take photos with him.

Su is determined to use his influence for the greater good.

In an effort to give back to society, he has established the Super Sports Foundation — a public welfare organization focused on advancing youth sports education and facilitating mass sports participation. Sunday's launch ceremony was held at Big Air Shougang, a fitting location given Su's roots and achievements.

He confessed that meeting young fans who tell him they picked up snowboarding because of him is especially rewarding.

"I am fortunate to be a role model to many children, and I hope to showcase the best version of myself to inspire others," Su said.

He stressed that he too was once a dreamer looking up to his own idols. With the help and encouragement of many people, he was ultimately able to reach the Olympic podium. So, as someone who grew up with the love and support of others, Su hopes to provide Chinese youngsters with a similar platform to succeed through his foundation.

"Though my path to success may not have been easy, it's not impossible for others to follow," he explained.

The foundation plans to organize a series of sports events, dubbed the "Superstar Series" — focusing on trendy extreme sports like skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding — to encourage the younger generations to unleash their potential.

Su's father has been conducting free snowboarding training sessions at ski resorts in Northeast China's Jilin province for over a decade. Su considers his dad a true practitioner of the country's campaign to involve 300 million people in ice and snow sports.

This year, Su decided to emulate his father's efforts by providing youngsters with a better environment to experience the joys of surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding.

After Sunday's launch ceremony, an under-12 skateboarding competition was held to kick off the Superstar Series.

Miao Yize, 9, was among the competitors.

Attempting to execute a trick he has been practicing for weeks, the young boy took a tumble off a ramp. Unfazed by the fall, Miao picked up his board and tried again and again, determined to get it right. All the while, his parents and grandma cheered him on from the sidelines.

"He has never shown so much interest in sports before," said Cheng Yue, Miao's mother. "And he chose this sport because of Su Yiming."

She recalled how Miao "was completely absorbed in the action on TV" during Beijing 2022. "He watched Su spinning through the air with such intense focus that I could barely get his attention," the mother added.

Miao's mind was made up — he wanted to give extreme sports a try. Reasoning that travel to and from ski resorts to snowboard would not be convenient, Miao's mom instead bought her son a skateboard.

Soon the young boy was honing his skills at an indoor skate park in Tianjin's Binhai New Area, where they live. As the year progressed, his passion for skateboarding never diminished, and he became one of the best young riders at the park.

After happening upon news online that Su's foundation would be hosting a skateboarding competition in Beijing, Miao's mother jumped at the chance to register him for the event.

"It's his first time competing with these high-level skateboarders from around the country. The experience and lessons he will gain from this competition are far more important than the actual results," she said.

On the same day, a group of primary and secondary school students from Beijing took part in a skateboarding trial session, aided by pro riders.

Eight-year-old Han Ziqin had his first taste of the sport during this event. Having snowboarded for two years, he is an avid fan of Su. So, eager to meet his idol, he signed up for the skateboarding session.

Seeing Su wasn't the only highlight of the day for the youngster.

"This is also my first time being at the base of Shougang Big Air," Han said. "It looks amazing and it's really gigantic. Seeing it up close makes me admire Su even more now."

Han and other beginners were all given free skateboards and various other items of sports gear as gifts.

"Although I was initially afraid of falling, I will continue to play with the skateboard," Han added.

So, that's mission accomplished for Su and the Super Sports Foundation.

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