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Air-raising action wows Shanghai crowds

Fans revel in extreme sports excitement as four-day Olympic Qualifying Series gets 'full marks' from IOC chief

By SUN XIAOCHEN in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-21 09:38
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The Shanghai leg of the inaugural Olympic Qualifier Series takes place at the Huangpu Riverside in Shanghai. Set against a backdrop of bridges, ships and skyscrapers, the event provides spectators and athletes with world-class sporting competition and a unique urban vibe. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

With gravity-defying tricks and hair-raising maneuvers cheered and enjoyed at a vibrant urban festival, the Shanghai leg of the inaugural Olympic Qualifier Series has far exceeded expectations, thrilling action sports fans worldwide.

As the first-of-itskind, one-stop qualifying event for four sports, the series capped its four-day Shanghai leg with great fanfare at the Huangpu Riverside on Sunday, leaving athletes, officials and fans savoring the unique combination of world-class sport, dynamic city vibes and smooth organization that went into creating this appetite-whetting Olympics amuse bouche.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, gave full marks to the East China metropolis for hosting the qualifier series at the highest international standards.

"With this event, China and Shanghai have once more set the benchmark for the organization of Olympic events and big sporting events, with venues and organization here absolutely up to the top standards," Bach said during a news briefing at the close of the event on Sunday.

Playing host to four action sports — skateboarding, BMX freestyle, sport climbing and breaking, the Huangpu Riverside, a dockland park in the heart of Shanghai, set the stage for a total of 464 athletes from 120 nations and regions to vie for Olympic qualification berths for Paris 2024. A second OQS leg will take place in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, from June 20-23.

Drawn not only by the competition, but also a variety of pop culture activities, more than 45,000 fans swarmed into the urban park during the four-day event, only to be faced with onslaught of adrenaline-fueled entertainment, with awe-inspiring displays of skill on ramps, rails, walls and dance floors all happening at the same time.

Perhaps, the proudest moment for the host came during the women's BMX freestyle final on Saturday, when Sun Sibei, Sun Jiaqi and Deng Yawen completed a sweep of the podium to a deafening roar of approval from the crowd. In sport climbing speed, female climber Zhou Yafei posted a personal best to tap first in the women's final, before her compatriot Wu Peng took silver in the men's event.

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