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Last modified: Monday, September 27, 2010

Chinese Olympians at IU School of HPER as part of 21-year partnership with Beijing Sport University

Sept. 27, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- To further support Indiana University's global initiatives, the IU School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) has welcomed three former Olympic athletes from China for a year of study at IU Bloomington.

The athletes include:

  • Zhong Chen, a taekwondo gold medalist in the Sydney and Athens Olympics in 2000 and 2004
  • Xu Wang, a women's wrestling gold medalist in the Athens Olympics
  • Dan Zhu, a rhythmic gymnastics silver medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics
  • A fourth Olympic athlete, Tao Chou, will join the others at the School of HPER by the end of October. She won a silver medal in all-round rhythmic gymnastics in the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Olympians at HPER

The Olympians from China will complete individualized programs of study and collaborate with HPER faculty and staff in areas of the visiting scholars' research interests.

Print-Quality Photo

With the Beijing Sport University (BSU) Champion Class program, hosting these elite athletes aligns with the School of HPER's strategic focus on preparing students for careers in positive public health, both locally and on a global scale. The concept of 'positive public health' is characterized by a focus on community quality of life and high-level wellness through sciences that include disciplines such as kinesiology, ergonomics, exercise science, nutrition, recreational sports, active living with parks and recreation concentrations, youth leadership development and global health.

The BSU Champion Class program provides opportunities for graduate studies to prepare world champion athletes and coaches for careers after athletic retirement. The current visiting athletes are sponsored by the China Scholarship Council for their overseas study.

During their year of study as visiting scholars, the athletes will complete individualized programs of study, including classes in sports management and marketing, athletic training, dance, martial arts and intensive English. They will also engage in opportunities to observe techniques used to assess high-level sports performance in the IU Human Performance Laboratories, as well as collaborate with HPER faculty, staff and students in the athletes' areas of graduate research.

This collaboration reflects the long, unique relationship that has existed between HPER and BSU since 1989. A formal agreement was renewed in May 2008 under the leadership of HPER Dean Robert M. Goodman. Since that time, HPER and BSU have actively exchanged faculty and students, and are currently exploring shared research in Kinesiology and sport sciences.

"HPER is strategically focused on preparing students for careers that shape health and wellness, both locally and on a global scale," Goodman said. "Thus, the year that these elite athletes will spend at HPER is a perfect alignment between HPER's new vision for positive public health, which incorporates everything from sport management, fitness and athletic training, and the BSU Champion Class program."

Beijing Sport University, founded in 1953, is one of the premier sports universities in the People's Republic of China. Since the launch of the BSU Champion Class program in 2003, more than 160 students have enrolled in this program, including 39 Olympians, 69 world champions and 53 coaches.

Chen's experience illustrates how the athletes' experiences at IU can bolster their post-athletic careers.

"After returning to China, I would like to apply what I learn at IU to the field of sport management to help develop the Chinese club sport marketplace," she Chen, adding that while China currently has a wide variety of club sports compared to the U.S., the Chinese club sports market is still maturing.

She wants to better understand how American and Chinese club sport approaches compare so she can further develop her thinking as she works in that market upon return to China.

"I also look forward to observing athletic training classes, to more deeply understand the process of recovery I went through following a severe injury in 2002," she said.

Chen represented China at the international level for more than ten years, including three consecutive Summer Olympic Games. She won China's first Olympic gold medal in taekwondo at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, and repeated her Olympic success at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, but did not medal in that competition.

Additional information about the athletes:

  • Dan ZHU was a national competitor in rhythmic gymnastics. A student at BSU from 1997-2002, she is currently an assistant coach with the Chinese Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team, and also serves as a referee for rhythmic gymnastics competitions. She was a champion of the all-around team competition of the National Championship from 2004 to 2008, and has garnered many awards in her sport since 2002.
  • Zhong CHEN is a retired Chinese taekwondo competitor who represented China at international level for more than 10 years, including three consecutive Summer Olympic Games. She won China's first Olympic gold medal in taekwondo at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, and repeated her Olympic success at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, but did not medal in that competition.
  • Xu WANG is a female Chinese freestyle wrestler who competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, winning a gold medal in the 72 kg. weight class. She had been a member of the Chinese National Wrestling Team from 2001-2008. After capturing Olympic Gold, she became the Asian Games champion of women's 72 Kg wrestling in Doha in 2006, and became the World Cup champion of women's 72 kg wrestling in 2007. Xu attended BSU from 1999-2001.

About the School of HPER

Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) encompasses a broad spectrum of academic interests and professional fields. HPER offers nearly 50 undergraduate and advanced degree programs through our departments of Environmental Health, Applied Health Science, Kinesiology, and Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies. To further its health and wellness initiative, Campus Recreational Sports provides sport and fitness services for the IU community and the public. More information can be found at

For more information, contact Cindy Miller at 812- 855-1354 and