Standing on a seven-meter-long "bamboo" pole, the 17-year-old Hu Chaogui held a much thinner "bamboo" in hands and used it as an oar to glide forward on the water while maintaining his stability with ease.
This was not just an acrobatic folk show. The 17-year-old boy of the Miao ethnic group was competing in the men's 60-meter single bamboo drifting event on the on-going Chinese 9th National Traditional Ethnic Sports Games in Guizhou province in southwest China.
It was the first time for the ethnic sport, originating from local people's makeshift transportation method in northern Guizhou province, to be included as a title event in the national ethnic meet in its 58-year history.
However, the large pieces of "bamboos" on which the athletes glided, were no longer made of real bamboo but bamboo-shaped green fibreglass that have better flotage and are detachable. The 4.5-meter long thinner poles used as oars while helping to keep the balance are also made of fibreglass and can be separated into two parts.
Hu, a student from Southeast Guizhou's Miao and Dong Autonomous County, won the top prize for the hosts in the 60m event on Sunday in the Hongfeng Lake in Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou. And it was also the first top prize that came out from the 9-day sports and culture gala opened on Saturday night.
"I started to train single bamboo drifting last year. And the one-year hard work finally paid off today as I won the top prize here. It will be an unforgettable day in my life," said Hu.
Like Hu Chaogui, the Miao girl Bai Yueming also started training in 2010. And the 17-year-old had gone through a much tougher training period before she won the top prize in the women's 60m event here on Sunday.
Bai's father passed away late last year and the poor girl was so immersed in sorrow and she did not want to keep training any more.
But her family all supported her to resume training and Bai gradually walked out from deep sorrow as she enjoyed more and more while doing the sport.
Standing on the top podium, the 17-year-old impressed the jubilant crowds with equanimity beyond her age.
"Today is a new beginning of my life," she said. "I proved I have grown up and do not need my family to worry about me any more."
After the prize-awarding ceremony, Bai brought her family members to the podium and take photos together. She spoke loudly to the crowds: "These are my family. And I am grateful for their support."
There are altogether four single bamboo drifting events in the 9th Chinese Ethnic Games. Apart from the two events finished Sunday, the men's and women's 100m finals will be staged on Monday.
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