YINCHUAN, China, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Since the winter vacation started, a fishing pond in Pingluo County of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has always been full of cheers and laughter between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m..
Though the fishing-pond transformed rink is not quite standard and some surfaces are uneven, over 70 boys and girls, aging from five to 16, still enjoyed the short track speed skating as if they were professional.
"Every year at this time, we will open a winter camp for short track speed skating and this one is the fourth. The Beijing Winter Olympics is approaching and the children are so excited," said Li Xu, a coach with the Chunya Winter Sports Club of Pingluo.
Su Rujia, 12, is one of them. About two years ago, the girl saw Li and a group of students were roller skating in a square. She immediately fell in love with the sport and started the practice.
Li is a PE teacher at a local primary school. At first, he just wanted to open a roller skating class for students in his school, so that they could find a sport to relax after school. Later, in order to help promote winter sports among Chinese youth, he began to teach short-track speed skating.
Su still remembers the first time she put on the skates, she couldn't stand steady and dare not to make a step forward.
"About 10 days later, I managed to learn how to skate and I felt I was so free, " she said.
As an underdeveloped county with less than 300,000 residents, there's no ice rink in Pingluo, these children can only practice skating in winter or go to Yinchuan, the capital city of Ningxia.
Su didn't want to miss this winter camp though she's about to start junior high school. "I can spare some time for skating thanks to my high efficiency in my homework," she told her mum.
The fishing pond is four to five kilometers away from Su's home and her mum had to take her there by electric motorcycle.
"It's really cold, but worth it. It feels so cool to skate on the ice," said Su.
According to Li, every day, after warming-up exercise, the children will put on skates and then kept practicing how to skate, how to enter the bend, how to get out of the bend, and how to cross the line.
The whole process is very exhausting. Sometimes Su didn't want to move at all after the training and even thought about quitting, but the joys that skating brought to her attracted her attending always the next day.
"In the past two years, I hardly get cold and also met many friends, which is much more fun than staying at home alone," she said.
Li currently has over 100 students and he is so pleased to see these children have grown taller, become more sensible and skate better and better.
"Sports are good for kids to develop a strong and hard-working spirit of only practice making perfect, which will also be beneficial to their study," he said.
The local sports authorities provided many supports throughout these years. They encouraged those students to participate in competitions at all levels and also invited world champions to give them instructions.
Some children have been admitted to better junior high schools with this specialty, and some children have been recommended to Beijing for more professional training, said Li.
"Skating gives kids the feeling of flying. The more children skate, the more they like it," he said.
Those students who practice skating are more interested in Beijing Winter Olympics than their peer. They watched the World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series and admired Olympic champion Wu Dajing and silver medalist Ren Ziwei as their idols.
"I hardly have vacations or weekends these years. I am definitely tired, but one should stick to something in life. Making children healthy and happy is really a great honor to me," Li said. ■