WUHAN, Central China, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- China has never left its mark on canoeing until the 2004 Athens Olympic Games when China won the men's 500 meters doubles event.
From then on China has made steady improvement by taking one gold, two silver and two bronze at the World Cup in Boznan of Poland in 2006, and one silver and three bronze in the 2006 world championships.
In 2007, China continued a nice show in both world cups in Croatia and Hungary with five gold and one gold respectively. In the 2007 worlds, China managed to book three direct berths for the Beijing Olympics.
Song Guangli, canoeing chief under China's State Sport General Administration, attributed the progress to their more efforts on basic skills.
He took the ongoing 6th Chinese City Games as an example.
"We add 12km events into this edition of City Games, which means we pay more attention to players' endurance and basic abilities."
Long distance training methods are popular in eastern European countries like Poland. And in these years, the methods have been adopted in Chinese canoeing and even in some small tournaments like national champions tourney, we can see the competition of 12km.
"Most Chinese paddlers' aerobic ability, the basic ability, is far from good," said Song, "As the City Games is aimed to prepare athletes for the 2012 London Games, we bring in 12km competition this time."
Meanwhile, it is more realistic to evaluate athletes' aerobic ability rather than explosive strength as they are not grown-ups yet.
"That's why we don't have 500m events at the City Games," added Song.
When talking about young hopefuls, Song said: "We do find some guys who have great potential like Guo Chaoxiong, Liang Liping, Zhang Zhiwu and Li Qiang."
Liang won both women's all-around K1 event(including 2000m and 1000m) and 12km K1. While Li Qiang lifted the titles in men's all-around C1 and C2.
Other than the young guys, Chinese national team, which is now training in Qiandaohu Lake of Zhejiang, is also on the rise.
Josef Capousek, head coach of the Chinese national team, said earlier: "We are noticed when we won a gold medal in Athens and now are closely watched as we have improved our overall strength."
In terms of singles events, Olympic champion Yang Wenjun grabbed one bronze in men's 500m C1 in 2006 and 2007 Worlds, Zhong Hongyan clinched one bronze in women's 500m K1 in 2006 Worlds.
"I have full confidence when encountering top foreign rivals after my coach urges me to enhance my singles ability," Yang said.
As for doubles events, China focuses on building teams at different levels and they have a handful of canoeists at disposal.
In the men's 500m C2, Olympic champion Meng Guanliang has recovered substantially. Now he is pairing with Gong Yongjun but he might partner with Yang Wenjun again.
For this event, Wang Bing, Huang Shaokun, Zhang Zhiwu and Xie Weiyong are the other choices.
China is traditionally strong in women's kayak events especially K2 and K4. In 2006 and 2007 worlds, China took a bronze and silver respectively in women's K4.
Now led by Capousek, Chinese team is more actively involved in training. As a player Yu Lamei said: "We have seen our obvious progress, which gives us more confidence and impetus."