Little Olympics

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Beijing has finally come down with Olympic fever. Tania McCartney locates some venues that will keep the kids at the top of the world-class sporting arena

After an agonising wait, The Games have arrived! If you missed out on event tickets and the kids tire of being armchair athletes, send them out to these great Beijing sports spots for a swim, run or gallop.

Ball Games

If batting a shuttlecock in Ritan Park is a little passé, the kids might enjoy shooting hoops at East Gate Plaza’s basketball half-court. Get sweaty for just 50RMB an hour, or thrash a little black ball in the squash court right next door (20RMB/hour). Book ahead – it gets busy (B1/F, 29 Dongzhong Jie, Dongcheng district (tel 6417 1188 ext 5070)). Chaoyang and Si’de parks also have outdoor basketball courts, or you can work on your backhand at their tennis courts.

For true Sampras wannabes, there are plenty of other places to train for Wimbledon, including GS Tennis (, Hot Shot Tennis ( and Potter’s Wheel International Tennis School (tel 8538 2803; For pigskin kickers, ClubFootball (tel 5130 6893; and Dulwich College Community Programmes (tel 6454 9019; both run kickin’ football camps throughout the summer, and beyond.

The 1,500 metre freestyle is only a ripple away… if you dedicate every minute of the next four years to the pool

Martial Arts

Well, we are in China, after all. Watch with pride as your offspring become wushu, gongfu or kungfu masters at the Jinghua Wushu Association (tel 135 2228 3751; or Beijing Jiu-jitsu Academy (133 1121 0805). Vince Soberano, Muay Thai kickboxing world champion, runs brilliant fitness classes for kids that combine martial arts and team-building (tel 139 1071 2576;

Water Sports
The 1,500 metre freestyle is only a ripple away… if you dedicate every minute of the next four years to the pool. Strap on your goggles and dive into Ditan Park (8 Hepingli Zhongjie, Dongcheng district (tel 6426 4483)) or Chaoyang Park swimming pool. Both provide the quintessential Chinese swimming experience. For indoors training, try Dongdan Indoor Swimming Pool (A2 Dahua Lu, Dongcheng district (tel 6523 1241)) or Splash Recreation Club at the Sino-Swiss Hotel (9 Xiao Tianzhu Nanlu, Shunyi district (tel 6456 5588 ext 1217;

If you need a little extra Olympic coaching, contact Kevin Hua for some serious Dragon Fire Swim-Training (tel 136 0106 4534;

For those amphibians who want an ocean of experience, Beijing Sailing Centre (tel 150 0118 9580; is the spot for sailboating, and A2 Water Sports offers a myriad of water board tuition including surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking and more (tel 139 0138 2484;

Strap on your goggles and dive in


Pony-lovers keen for dressage and show-jumping (or just a gentle gallop) can trot over to Asgard Horsemanship Club (Shunhuang Lu, Chaoyang district (tel 8459 5908)) or Equuleus International Riding Club (91 Shunbai Lu, Sunhe Town, Chaoyang district (tel 6432 4947; Both offer tutelage at 350-450RMB for 50 minutes, with membership packages and boarding available. Weekends get busy.

For city kids, horses are only a whinny away, right within the third ring road at Wanfangting Park. Its Equestrian Centre has over 50 horses, and pony-rental is 150RMB an hour, with tutelage an extra 50RMB/hour (A2 Yangqiao Xili, Youanmenwai, Fengtai district (tel 6722 7339)).

For true Sampras wannabes, there are plenty of places to train for Wimbledon


From track and field to cheerleading, Sports Beijing caters to the athlete inside every kid. This non-profit organisation provides quality programmes including basketball, football, dance, golf, roller and ice hockey, cricket, gymnastics and martial arts (tel 5838 5388; Now there’s absolutely no excuse to be a couch potato during this Olympic time in Beijing’s history. Go for gold!

First published, in part, in Time Out Beijing magazine.
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