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Monday, July 06, 2020, 09:58
Getting a jump-start on life
By China Daily
Monday, July 06, 2020, 09:58 By China Daily

A school churning out skipping rope world champions is inspiring disabled students

Members of the Qixing jump rope team wear eyeshades while they practice at the school so they can better understand what blind people experience. (LIU DAWEI / XINHUA)

Zhong Weifeng is like many of the other students at Qixing Primary School in Guangzhou, Guangdong province-he is a world champion.

The 10-year-old is jump rope world champion in the speed section of his age division.

At last year's Jump Rope World Cup in Norway, 17 students from the school competed against participants from 26 countries and regions and won a sixth of the gold medals up for grabs.

Over the past decade, the small primary school has produced 33 jump rope world champions and broken 11 world records.

Almost all the schools success can be attributed to the school's thickset physical education teacher, Lai Xuanzhi, who openly admits he has failed the jump rope test.

Members of Qixing Primary School's jump rope team and their coach, Lai Xuanzhi, celebrate a teammate's birthday at the school in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. (LIU DAWEI / XINHUA)

When he arrived at the school, Lai, who was affectionately called "Fatty" by the students, was horrified by the lack of sports facilities. Undeterred, he introduced rope jumping and learned the techniques of the sport by watching online videos of professional jumpers.

He also fashioned jumping ropes from motorbike cables which helped all his charges, many of whom are children of migrant workers, increase their speed.

In November, a movie based on the story of the school's jump rope team, Starlight, was released. Lai and Zhong and some of his teammates played themselves.

Their story has inspired not only filmmakers, but also blind and visually impaired children from a special education school in Guangzhou.

They took in the movie with the help of audio descriptions and even practiced rope jumping with Qixing's star jumpers.

Lai told the blind children: "Life is full of difficulties and setbacks. But never give up on your dreams."

Lu Jiening, who is blind, practices jump rope, coached by a student from Qixing school. (LIU DAWEI / XINHUA)

Lu skips rope in his home neighborhood in Guangzhou. (LIU DAWEI / XINHUA)

Trophies won by the jump rope team are displayed at the school where Starlight premiered on the evening of Nov 15. (LIU DAWEI / XINHUA)

Members of the team participate in a morning training session at the school. (LIU DAWEI / XINHUA)

Lu and other blind students have the action of Starlight described to them at a special screening. (LIU DAWEI / XINHUA)

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