Lankan sportsmen and women return
Some of the Sri Lanka sportsmen and women who have already completed
their events will return home from today. But don't be surprised if any
Sri Lanka sportsman or woman writes their names in a few crooked Chinese
characters when you request an autograph on their return to Colombo
after the Guangzhou Asian Games.
Even the majority members of the 143-member Sri Lanka contingent who
are still here, competing in their respective disciplines, have a good
volume of fans. Several of them write a word or two in Chinese when
local fans request them to autograph. That is because of some basic
Chinese they have mastered during their stay at the Athletes Village.
Learning how to write their names in Chinese calligraphy has become a
popular activity not only for Sri Lankans but also for thousands of
other competitors from 44 nations across Asia who now resides at the
Athletes' Village. Dozens of foreigners are packing the Chinese Study
Centre daily to gather some quick knowledge of the local language.
Several Sri Lankan sportsmen and women too were seen at the centre,
trying to make the best use of the facility and learn a few Chinese
characters. In return, they wrote a few words in Sinhalese and gifted
their first Chinese teachers.
There is a staff of over 25 who provide instruction in calligraphy,
tea ceremony and guzheng (a Chinese zither), according to Li Rongsen, a
student at Guangzhou City Polytechnic who serves as a calligraphy
teacher. "It's very popular among touring athletes. Several groups of
foreigners come here with great interest in learning how to write their
names in Chinese," he said.
Abdullah Alkhaiyat, an athlete from Kuwait, carefully concentrated on
each stroke of ink on the rice paper, oblivious to a reporter's camera
on his face. After 15 minutes of copying Li's penmanship, Abdullah could
finally relax and admire his effort. "My teacher said I did very well,
and I am proud of my writing," he said.
Most athletes are fascinated with calligraphy and Chinese traditional
culture, and are keen to have a copy of their names in Chinese, written
all by themselves, to take back home. Most of them are keen to take home
the written papers of their first Chinese lessons when they return home
after the Games. "It was a new experience and totally different from my
language. I will take it back home to show it to my family and friends,"
a Pakistani athlete said.
Learning to write "wo ai ni," which means "I love you" in Chinese, is
also very popular, said Zou Nana, a student volunteer from Sun Yat-sen
He went on to describe why "Wo ai ni" is the most popular sentence to
be written in Chinese by the touring athletes. "Most of the athletes
here for the Asian Games are youth. There young guys may be in a
relationship. As we know, saying 'I love you' in different languages is
a modern way to show love, and Chinese is the most popular choice here,"
said Zou. Perhaps, Sri Lankan competitors, on their return home, may say
"wo ai ni" to their loved ones.
With Chinese characters among the most stylish tattoo patterns all
over the world, some athletes have asked Zou to decorate their skin with
a few strokes from the brush pen."It's interesting and crazy. A
Pakistani youngster came here yesterday and asked me to write 'I love
you Pakistan' in Chinese on his arm. After two days, he came in again.
It's amazing that the characters were still on his skin - mottled, but
clear enough to read. I don't know how he managed that," he shared his
While Alkhaiyat was learning how to hold the brush, his teammate,
Fahed Hasan, showed great interest in the tea ceremony. "I know Chinese
tea is very famous around the world, but I haven't witnessed the unique
ceremony before drinking it. And I am curious about the ancient Chinese
musical instrument, the guzheng. If I have more time, I would like to
learn how to play it," he said.
Meanwhile, the Games organizers have taken all possible steps to
maintain strict quality control on food supplied to members of the Asian
Games family, be it athletes, officials, OCA guests or media
personalities. More importantly, the organizers have taken 100%
precautions to make sure that the food or medicines supplied to the
competitors do not contain substances of banned steroids.
All meat supplied to the 16th Asian Games venues has passed strict
food quality tests to ensure it is free of clenbuterol, a prohibited
anabolic agent that can have a short-term stimulant effect, Guangzhou's
food and drug administration said.
The controls put in place to monitor the presence in the food have
also been strengthened to minimise the risk of accidental or deliberate
doping, according to Lin Yongsheng, Deputy Director of the
Administration. The meat suppliers for the Asian Games, which also
served the 2008 Beijing Olympics, have been selected in a strict manner.
Food science experts have been sent to make on-site examinations and
take sample tests, while the transportation and storage of the meat has
been carefully supervised. Every batch of the meat at the Games' venues
had been tested.
The canned herbal tea served at the various competition venues is
also stimulant-free and safe for athletes to drink, he said. Real-name
registration is required for buying and selling drugs in Guangzhou that
are on the list of banned stimulants, according to Lin.
A total of 226 on-site teams have been working around the clock to
keep tabs on the food suppliers and conduct real-time tests on the food
and its delivery. Meanwhile, 28 drills have been carried out over the
past three months to prepare for contingencies.
Forty hotels have been designated and 345 food and raw materials
enterprises chosen to serve people attending the Games. About 175
different drugs and 338 kinds of medical supplies are available for
athletes. Since November 5, over 500 tons of food and about 2,500 tons
of soft drinks have been supplied to the Asian Games Town, venue workers
and volunteers and spectators. Some 99.08 percent of the food at the
venues passed the 2,030 sample tests conducted at catering firms, he
According to Lin, "All the food and raw materials cannot be supplied
to the people attending the Asian Games until sampling inspection is
qualified by the testing department of the Guangzhou Municipal
Government and cannot be supplied to the athletes until they are
qualified lot-by-lot to be stimulant-free. Up to now, there have been no
abnormal in the examination, delivery, acceptance check and escort of
the food and raw materials for the Asian Games.