Amateur runners may get shot at 2020 Olympic glory

Editor:嫖酸輩
Source:嶄忽晩烏
Updated:2017-03-17 10:45:16

  Riding on the popularity of marathons in China, the sport's national governing body announced on Thursday that it will allow amateurs the opportunity to compete for a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

  Aimed at triggering greater interest in long-distance running, the Chinese Athletics Association unveiled a plan to offer entries to amateur runners if they meet qualifying standards in domestic trials.

  The association will offer two spots - one man and one woman - on its national team for the 2020 Olympics to amateurs who can clock times faster than current Olympic qualifying standards of 2 hr 19 min for men and 2 hr 45 min for women.

Amateur runners may get shot at 2020 Olympic glory

  Amateurs are defined as those who have never registered with the CAA for professional training with provincial and national teams, said Du Zhaocai, vice-president of the CAA.

  "It's an experiment to integrate our Olympic program on the elite level and the mass fitness campaign at the grassroots. Hopefully, it will motivate more people to start running," Du said on Thursday.

  Long-distance running is appealing to an increasing number of health-conscious urban Chinese as a fashionable exercise.

  Last year, 328 marathons registered with the CAA were held across the country, attracting more than 2.8 million participants. There were only 134 such races attracting 1.5 million runners in 2015.

  At some high-profile races, such as the Beijing Marathon, organizers have to run an online lottery to decide who will receive a place at the starting line as the number of registrants usually exceeds the total entries.

  Despite serving as motivation for grassroots participants, the policy does not guarantee finding amateurs capable of meeting the qualifying standards, insiders said.

  "It's more of a promotion ploy, because all the runners who are capable of reaching Olympic standards have been recruited by professional camps," said Kang Xu, a frequent runner and editor with Front Runner, a popular long-distance running magazine.

  "The overall level of grassroots participation in China remains far behind their counterparts in strong marathon nations like the United States and Japan," he said.

  Wang Jing, a runner who has finished 12 marathons, said the governing body should focus more on improving services to runners, logistics, medical support and post-race recovery at grassroots events to improve the experiences of participants.