star hurdler Liu Xiang has called for placing greater importance on
physical education to improve students’ declining fitness.
"The deterioration of children’s fitness levels has been a pressing
issue in society, and has also drawn attention from the sports circle.
Promoting the role of physical education in schools needs to be given
greater importance," Liu, a member of the National Committee of the
Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said on Thursday.
Although retired from athletics, Liu, the gold medalist in men’s
110-meter hurdles at the 2004 Athens Olympics, was mobbed by a huge
group of reporters when he appeared at the opening meeting of the CPPCC
National Committee’s annual session on Monday.
Liu didn’t explain his new proposal to the top political advisory body
in detail but revealed that it is related to implementing school PE
According to the national fitness survey by the General Administration
of Sport of China and the Ministry of Education, physical test results
for college and secondary school students in key categories including
speed, lower-limb strength and stamina have continued to decline.
Youth fitness has drawn growing concern among notable sports figures,
including basketball star Yao Ming, who is also a CPPCC National
During last year’s session, Yao proposed upgrading the school
curriculum by introducing more sports events and after-school
Due to a heel injury that sidelined him from the Olympics finals in
Beijing 2008 and London 2012, Liu announced his retirement last April.
The 32-year-old Shanghai native said he could now spend more time
promoting youth sports participation.
During last year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing, Liu
participated in a series of youth promotion events while working with
CCTV as a guest commentator.
"Track and field is the foundation of all sports. Due to reasons such
as safety concerns and lack of a field, some schools took events like
long-distance running off their PE courses, or replaced outdoor exercise
with lectures in classrooms, which for me isn’t the right decision," Liu
"One man’s voice, however, is small. I hope to see all the relevant
parties work together to improve on-campus sports facilities and to cut
down academic assignments to allow students to exercise more."