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UPDATED: April 25, 2007 Web Exclusive
More Than Gold Medals
"Personally, I don't think people should overemphasize or have a high expectation for gold medals, becuase the Olympiad is more than gold medals," said Wei Di

Meng Guanliang and Yang Wenjun made history August 28 at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, by becoming the first two Chinese canoeists to win gold medals in the men's C2 500m race in the Olympic regatta and the first ever gold medallists in China's water sports history.

Wei Di, director of China Water Sports Administration Center, in a recent interview with Beijing Review explained the preparation work being done by China's water sports teams for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also shared his views on the future of water sports in China after the 2008 Games.

Beijing Review: After the Chinese canoeing team made history at the Athens Olympic, you told the media that the "secret" for the gold medal was "scientific training." Has this "secret" been applied to the sailing and rowing teams as well?

Wei Di: Sports cannot survive without the support of science. "Scientific training" refers to a series of training systems including the athlete's nutrition, daily diet, training, and recuperation after the games, etc. It is a trans-discipline science consisting of nutrition, physical training, biology, psychology, and even sociology.

Its success has been proven by the canoeing team at the Athens Olympics and, in answer to your question, it has been applied to the sailing and rowing teams.

The level of scientific training has been greatly improved. Research and development on water sports equipment, which will help coaches learn more about training, are being carried out. These developments will provide basic information for coaches and trainers. The results so far are promising.

Without the support of science, we would not have reached the goal we set. With this support, I'm sure it will allow our athletes to do their very best.

Canadian Marek Ploch, former coach of China's canoeing team, played an important role in helping Meng/Yang win the gold in Athens. On many occasions, you have mentioned that foreign coaches would be invited by the China Water Sports Administration to head national teams. Are there any foreign coaches being considered at the moment?

Yes, we invited Igor Grinko, formerly from Russia who now lives in the US, as the head coach of men's rowing team.

Mr. Grinko is an ultra-successful sculling coach, whose coaching skills have produced 21 medal boats in nine Summer Olympics.

With his help, China won the champion title in lightweight men's coxless four at the 2006 World Rowing Championships. We are quite pleased with his training methods.

After the Athens Olympics, you mentioned that the "major task" was to "increase the efforts to win more gold medals." How is the "major task" going so far?

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