Hard work behind glamour at opening ceremony

August 8th, 2008 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 8 (Xinhua) The opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics would leave the world something to remember for years and surely set a mark in the Olympic movement. The couple of hour’s glamour was the result of toilsome preparations. About 14,000 performers, who took part in the opening ceremony on the stadium field, had trained for 13 months.

One of the highlights was Taiji martial art shown by thousands in accord. Xue Mingrui, an official from Tagou School of Martial Arts, was in charge of the selection of the Taiji performers.

“We first looked at heights and appearances. The performers must be at least about 1.70 metres tall and wear no obvious scars on faces. Secondly, we’d look into their basic skills of martial arts; they must have the capacity to perform difficult stunning movements. Thirdly, we’d look into the student’s characters and personality. We wanted no law-offenders,” Xue recalled the pick-up criteria.

“When it rained, the ground could be slippery and players were injured while running around or performing difficult movement. I remember at one rehearsal in the Bird’s Nest we had 16 players injured in one evening.

“One of the players fell down with his head touching the ground and lost consciousness, but his fellow players helped him up and he sustained to the end. All of the players stayed at the rehearsal and did not go for medical treatment until they finished the training,” Xue said.

“Some of our players have stunning skills. Fan Weipeng can use a single finger to break 99 porcelain bowls in one minute. He can also support his whole body with only two fingers, known as the power of two fingers - unique to the Shaolin School of Martial Arts.”

Fan Weipeng, 19, told about one of his hard experiences during the Taiji programme preparation. “We began to rehearse in the Bird’s Nest in early July. Once we trained for 48 hours because it rained while we were training. We trained until three in the morning and then we all fell asleep in the audience seats. When we woke up we continued - so we trained for two days and two nights,” said Fan. “We started the training in July 2007. First, each branch school involved trained on its own and then the performers were gathered by the end of May this year in Beijing for combined training - see we have trained for over a year.”

“The most challenging part is to run to an accurate position while keeping the array in form. As we are to perform in the evening when the lights are not so bright it’s rather hard to see your position clearly but we’ve by and large got used to it,” Fan added.

As the final test came, and everything went well, Fan thought hard work had paid off well and they deserved the applause.

“It’s really great to be on the stage. It’s such a big stage and it’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to perform at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. All hardship turns out fruitful. I’m really happy today,” said Fan.

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