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Masters ready for wushu tournament
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China finalized its team yesterday for the 2008 Beijing Wushu Tournament to be run in conjunction with the Olympics.

Of four men and four women chosen for eight of the 15 events, six will take part in taolu (routines) and another two in sanshou (fights), including taijiquan, taijijian, the long fist and broadsword as well as stick and spear play.

To be held on the sidelines of the Olympic Games between Aug 21 and 24, the tournament has drawn 128 athletes from 43 countries and regions to the 10 taolu and five sanshou events.

"The delegation is well prepared for the competition, as this tournament is definitely the best chance for wushu to display its unique value and charm," said Wang Xiaolin, president of the Chinese Wushu Association and secretary-general of the International Wushu Federation (IWUF).

Wang ruled out the martial art's inclusion as an official Olympic sport in the near future, but claimed that the upcoming tournament, after being especially authorized by the IOC, was an essential first step.

"The fact that the IWUF now boasts 120 member countries and regions shows the sport has developed in recent years and that it has a rather solid base across the world," he said.

In late 2006, the IOC made an exception to approve the tournament, making wushu the first sport to run a parallel meet in Olympic history.

China's world champion Wu Yanan is confident about his prospects in the all-around, which entails taijiquan and taijijian competition.

"In fact, my biggest rival in the competition is myself. I want to perform at my maximum level to put on a perfect show for the spectators, " said the 22-year-old gold medalist in both the 2006 Doha Asian Games and 2007 World Wushu Championships.

Wu said he has dreamed of competing at the Olympics since beginning the traditional Chinese sport 17 years ago.

"I should seize this opportunity, as it is essential to promote wushu on the international stage," he said.

Chen Guorong, vice president of Chinese Wushu Association, said a third of the total 50,000 tickets for the tournament had already been sold out.

"The rest will soon be put on sale at ticket booths near the Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium," he said.

(China Daily August 8, 2008)

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