OLYMPIC WUSHU - DREAM OR TRUE POSSIBILITY?

Click to see Tournament Results
The discussion about Wushu trying to get into the Olympics has been going on for quite some time, with masters and practitioners unable to agree if what they're doing is a sport, a martial art, a performance - or all three. What follows is a brief summary of the Wushu Tournament Beijing 2008 plus a quick view at the Olympic perspective.

 

RAUL ESTEVEZ (ESP)

The WUSHU TOURNAMENT BEIJING 2008 was carried out with great success at the same time of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games - the Games of the XXIX Olympiad - authorized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organized jointly by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) and the International Wushu Federation (IWUF).

The competition, which included 128 athletes from 43 countries and regions, was held from August 21 to 24 at the Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium of Beijing, same place where the Olympic Handball matches were disputed, showcasing the sport of Wushu to the world. The entry places were allocated based on results at the 9th World Wushu Championships in 2007. In Taolu, the top six athletes for the Taolu events had a direct pass plus those who received a wildcard entry (There were 20 wild cards distributed among those countries and regions that were not already represented). In Sanshou the top eight athletes for the Sanshou events had a direct pass.

In Taolu, the competition was individual. Men and women competed separately for five medal events:

MICHELE GIORDANO (ITA)

    Men:
  • Changquan
  • Nanquan & Nangun Combined
  • Taijiquan & Taijijian Combined
  • Daoshu & Gunshu Combined
  • Jianshu & Qiangshu Combined

    Women:
  • Changquan
  • Nanquan & Nandao Combined
  • Taijiquan & Taijijian Combined
  • Daoshu & Gunshu Combined
  • Jianshu & Qiangshu Combined

In Sanshou, The competition was individual and the knock out system was adopted.

EGY -vs- USA

Men competed in three weight classes and women in two:

    Men:
  • 56kg
  • 70kg
  • 85kg

    Women:
  • 52kg
  • 60kg

Other dispositions included that each country or region could only enter one athlete on each event, and each athlete could only compete in one event respectively. Also, the Chinese athletes, being the host country, were able to qualify in the competition directly.

CHENG CHUNG-HANG (HKG)

Wushu athletes lived in the Olympic Village and were also invited to the spectacular Olympic Closing Ceremony alongside the swimmers, gymnasts and track athletes who have long defined the games. Under the leadership of the BOCOG, the Wushu Tournament results were delivered real-time on the official BOCOG website, which also had the schedules, news, profiles of the athletes and more. In addition, specialized websites like www.jiayo.com followed suit.

The medals were not be added to the official Olympics medal tally, but were identical in design and material except for having the IWUF emblem in their center instead of the Beijing 2008 Olympic symbol. Also, the medal presentation ceremonies followed the same format as the Olympic ones, presenters included the president of the IOC, Jacques Rogge, as well as the international movie star and five times absolute champion of Wushu of China, Jet Li, among other VIPs. For this and many other reasons, the Wushu Tournament Beijing 2008 was the closest that Wushu athletes had ever been to being part of the Olympic Games.

ZHAO QINGJIAN (CHN)

Despite of the success of this tournament, the true Olympic future that Wushu has today is very uncertain. The official program for the Olympic Games of London 2012 has been published already and the IOC has reduced the number of disciplines to 26 without including Wushu. For the Games of the 2016, the program will go back to 28 and there is a list of five possible candidates to be included, but Wushu is not part of it either. Therefore, the minimum date in which Wushu could be a valid candidate would be for the Games of the 2020, without any guarantees.

Said all that, perhaps this premise of adversity can become the driving force behind the revision and development of better plans for Wushu promotion. There is no real reason why the millenary Wushu of China should not become one of the most popular and better recognized martial art based sport disciplines in the world. Wushu JIAYOU!