Football stands out among two nations' sports passions

Updated: 2015-05-23 06:35


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If you start talking about football with a Colombian, it will not be easy for you to get away. People are so passionate about football here that they talk excitedly about their favorite teams and players. Some of them will even show you videos of the famous Colombian football team dancing.

Football stands out among two nations' sports passions

The Colombian national team is currently ranked fourth in the FIFA world rankings. While the Chinese football team is not even on the list, football is still the most popular spectator sport in China.

In a joint press conference with Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday, China's Premier Li Keqiang said he would like to invite Colombian football coaches to China to teach skills and help the Chinese national football team progress.

Li also said he wants to play ping pong with Santos someday, which elicited laughter at the press conference.

China has an impressive history in ping pong, also called table tennis. Since 1959, Chinese players have won 60 percent of the men's world championships. The women players did even better: they have won all but two of the women's world championships since 1971.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics, China won all the gold medals.

The first thing that came to Jose Sanchez's mind when discussing Chinese sports was martial arts.

"Not martial arts to fight, but martial arts for the peace of the mind," said Sanchez, especially for young people in Colombia today, who need peace. Not to do damage or hurt somebody, but a way to meditation, to balancing the mind, body and soul."

Sanchez got to know martial arts from movies and martial arts academies in Bogota. He has seen a lot of young children who want to learn martial arts.

"It would be nice if more and more young people and children can get involved in these academies, because it is part of the mindset to get people to think about peace," he said.

China has long been associated with the martial arts, mainly kung fu. Chinese martial arts also include a number of fighting styles that have developed over the centuries. China and Colombia have a lot in common when it comes to sports.

Colombians are proud of cycling. The country's high altitude and hilly terrain have generated one of the world's best cyclists. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas won the 2014 Giro d'Italia after taking second place in the 2013 Tour de France.

Chinese like cycling, too. There are more than 500 million bicycles in China, and more than 37 percent of the population ride bicycles, according to Spokefly.

"Everyone can get involved in every sport here. It's easy to access recreational facilities," Isabelle Hernandez, a young Colombian who works as a page editor in Bogota, told China Daily.

China has been promoting a nationwide fitness campaign. With investment fitness facilities, a lot of Chinese are choosing a healthier lifestyle through sports.

China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, which was viewed by 5 billion people around the world, making it the most watched event in human history, Beijing also is bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

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