Feature: Desert sports bring joy in NW China-Xinhua

Feature: Desert sports bring joy in NW China

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-07-07 09:01:45

YINCHUAN, China, July 7 (Xinhua) -- In the circle with a diameter of three meters in the desert, two men were holding one of their legs with their hands and standing on just one leg, trying to knock each other down and out of the circle with their knee.

"Hurry up! Knock him down!" With his teammates' encouragement, Zhang Kuanjiang finally defeated the younger opponent and won the game to the delight of the onlookers.

"I think the most important part of the game is to be happy and make the crowd laugh. It feels like I'm back to my childhood!" said Zhang, a 38-year-old PE teacher at a middle school in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, northwest China.

This was a game in the sixth session of the National Desert Fitness Sports Meeting, which kicked off in the city of Zhongwei in Ningxia on Saturday. The event features 16 desert sports, such as football, volleyball and trail running.

To promote public participation, fun sports such as sliding down sand dunes or running with a watermelon are also held. Sometimes, the watermelons may fall down and break into pieces, and participants usually share the fruit with onlookers.

As a tourist destination, Zhongwei boasts the amazing view of the Tengger Desert and the Yellow River. Around 1.3 million tourists thronged here last year.

More than 1,000 sports lovers and athletes from 13 provinces, regions or municipalities nationwide such as Beijing, Jiangsu and Inner Mongolia have been attracted to attend this year's event.

It was not until the wooden ball game began that the Shanghai players realized they needed to borrow some clubs. "There is no sand in our hometown, so it's the first time for us to see the desert. We are too excited to be here and can't wait to play in the ocean of sand!" said 26-year-old Wang Yong.

On another field, two men were dragging a lady riding an artificial camel and running with no efforts spared. The fastest group would be the winner. "Our two boys are too slim to win the game. I couldn't give them any help but to cheer them up," said 40-year-old Wang Caifeng from Shaanxi Province. She couldn't even hold her breath when she laughed, though they ranked the last.

As to football games, players often fell down on the sand, or kicked the football out of the playing field. However, 28-year-old Zhu Xingyu often amazed his opponents and audience with spectacular bicycle kicks.

After crushing their rivals, Zhu told Xinhua that he is from Inner Mongolia where desert is common, so he is quite experienced in the game. "Most of the participants are seeing desert for the first time in their life, not to mention playing football here. It's quite different from that on the grassland," said Zhu.

In recent years, China has emphasized integrating sports with culture and tourism. In this event, each competitor received a free ticket for the desert scenic area, and all of them were invited to bonfires in the desert to enjoy local cuisine and fireworks shows.

It proved to be effective in attracting tourists from outside Ningxia. "The place is wonderful! I will definitely take my family to enjoy our time in the desert next time," said Han Huijun from Anhui Province, after finishing the game of sliding down from a 70-meter-high sand dune with her six-year-old daughter.