By Sportswriter Huang Jie
QUANZHOU, Southeast China, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- The sixth Chinese National
Peasants' Games, the world's only regular sports festival for peasants,
witnessed the huge change of Chinese peasant's ways of life in a seven-day
journey as it closed here on Saturday evening.
"When I was young, I have no time to do any sports, because at that time,
we were poor and needed to work in the fields every day to make the ends meet.
But now, things changed," said 72-year-old Song Zhaodi, who took her grandson to
watch the Chinese style wrestling at the Qiaoxiang Gymnasium.
The just-concluding Peasants' Games, which made its debut in 1988, saw
about 3,500 athletes from China's 32 provinces, autonomous regions and
municipalities, including Taiwan. Hong Kong and Macao also sent delegations to
observe the quadrennial get-together.
The athletes entered the games through internet. The government of Luquan,
Hebei Province, put an advertisement on local TV to select players and even
opened an official website for peasants to sign up.
"My son signed me up in that website and it's lucky for me to be here,"
said Xin Jinyi from Luquan, who competed in the 60-meter seedling-planting race.
"It is really a spectacular display to see peasants from all over China to plant
"Our server almost blew up for there were so many people trying to sign
up," said Wang Xiangkun, general secretary of Hebei delegation. "Some peasants
even directly found our address and came to our office. They want to be in the
Some peasants even spent money to travel a long away to cheer for the
athletes. After the first dragon-boat gold went to the host Fujian delegation,
the cheering squad was as happy as the champion.
"More than 100 villagers came to cheer up for our Dragon-boat team. We paid
all the cost by ourselves," the leader of the cheering squad told press. "We
have followed the dragon-boat to Guangdong, Sichuan and Jiangxi provinces. We
saw them taking part in the matches and it was good chances for us to travel
around. We are rich now and do not have to worry about the basic life any more."
Life changed a lot that some sports designed for the Peasants' Games seemed
to be out-of-date now. In the cycling events, all the bike used are the ordinary
ones people ride in past daily life. But cyclists are now not familiar with its
type while most audience went to watch the game by motorbikes and cars.
"We ride motorbikes in hometown," said one athlete. "Motorbikes, instead of
bicycles, are now the first choice for transportation because of the well-paved
roads within the villages and our better income."
In the seedling-planting race, some athletes even could not put the plastic
seedling into the holes on the ground.
"That's not because we are fake peasants. The truth is that we use all
kinds of machines to do farming," said Zhang Ping from the Shandong delegation.
"Nowadays, it is not necessary for peasants to plant with their own hands.
Machines do most of the jobs. I used to grow plants with my hands but now I
almost forgot those skills."
Cao Pileng from Qiancai Village of Quanzhou, drove his car to watch the
men's basketball matches everyday.
"Not because all the matches are free to watch, but for I like playing
basketball," said Li. After the reform and opening-up, Li's family grew sea
plants and became rich. He began to play basketball and often went to watch the
matches of Fujian Xunxin, one team of the Chinese Basketball Association League.
He still considered himself as a peasant but he also admitted that his life was
almost as same as those peoples' in city.
Fan Liwei represented Sichuan Province in the shuttlecocks event. However
she now lives in city and owns a sport-equipment shop. Fan left the rural areas
years ago to hunt jobs in city. While she has her own business in city, most of
her families are still living in the countryside.
Millions of Chinese peasants poured into cities to earn their living there
in recent years and it's now quite hard to tell those people from city
residents. With such trend going on, the world's only regular peasants' games
will probably become history in future.