Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beijing children to get longer lie-in

Beijing children will have more time to sleep when the new semester begins on Monday, as the city's education authority has ordered primary and middle schools not to begin classes before 8 am.

According to the notice issued on Friday, which postpones the start of the school day by 20-30 minutes, the city's education bureau also stated that pupils should spend no more than eight hours a day in classes.

Shanghai introduced a similar rule at the end of last year ordering primary schools not to start classes before 8:15 am, while secondary schools should not begin lessons before 8 am.

Health experts have said a lack of sleep may damage the brain, especially the part that deals with learning and memory.

"Exhaustion may also affect children's psychological health. It could affect a person's appetite and make them prefer high-calorie foods, so that obesity becomes an issue," said Li Lite, a nutrition professor of China Agriculture University.

To ensure students get enough physical exercise at school, Beijing's education bureau also asked schools to add 10 more minutes a day to the current 60 minutes of sports and recreation time in primary and secondary schools from the beginning of next month.

The Ministry of Education last year called on schools to revise timetables to allow students to get enough sleep - 10 hours for primary school students, nine hours for junior high school students and eight for senior high school students.

A study by the ministry late last year found that teenagers' average physical index, such as endurance, strength and speed, had been declining continuously in recent years.

The number of teenagers with poor eyesight remained high and the number of overweight urban teenagers kept increasing, the study found.

Source: China Daily

Universities help quake zone students

Soon after his arrival in Beijing on Thursday, Ma Tao realized his university had already resolved the financial difficulties he faced if he wanted to study for a bachelor's degree.

Ma graduated from a high school in Mianyang, one of the cities worst hit by the Sichuan earthquake in May.

Along with 25 other students from quake regions, the 18-year-old has been enrolled at the Beijing Institute of Technology . He will spend the next four years studying special energy engineering.

Before getting aid from his university, financial hardship caused by the earthquake almost stopped Ma from pursuing his dream in Beijing.

"I heard that staying in Beijing was really expensive, so I was initially thinking of going to a university in Chengdu, which would be a lot cheaper," he said.

Ma's family, who live in the countryside of Mianyang, suffered a huge loss in the massive disaster.

Their house and farmland were devastated by the 7.8 quake and subsequent floods.

In order to raise enough money for his university life, Ma had been helping his parents harvest corn - from the family's remaining land - days before boarding a train for Beijing.

"My parents insisted my future was the most important thing, so they stopped me from retreating to plan B," Ma said, adding he decided to go to Beijing after learning that BIT had said, "let no student quit studying for financial reasons or disaster".

At Thursday's enrollment, the university told Ma that he did not have to pay any tuition fees. He was also given a gift pack filled with necessities such as bedding, a backpack, and even toothpaste and a toothbrush.

Shi Lei, director of BIT's office for student financial aid, told China Daily on Friday: "The university has a special fund of nearly 1 million yuan for new students from the quake zones of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu."

The university had also been given a 2.8 million yuan donation from China National Tobacco, he said.

All 221 of the students from quake regions have been given a share of the money, Shi said.

"One of the students, who lost his mother in the quake, got 50,000 yuan, and the rest each received at least 5,000 yuan," he said.

The university will also offer psychological counseling to students who need it, he said.

"All new students will take a mental health assessment test," he said.

Those who need help will be assigned a mental health advisor, he said.

Sixty-seven of BIT's 3,100 new recruits are from Sichuan, he said.

As well as BIT, Tsinghua University has also offered help to 28 students from quake zones, the Beijing Youth Daily reported on Thursday.

Du Huiliang, head of student welfare office at the university, said each of them will receive a 1,000-yuan subsidy, a new bicycle, and a bag of daily essentials.

Source: China Daily

Favorites away from home as Primera Liga kicks off

Reigning Primera Liga Champions Real Madrid could not have chosen a worse place to begin their defense of the Spanish soccer title in week one of the new PrimeraLiga season.

Real travel to Deportivo La Coruna's Riazor Stadium, a ground where they have not won since the 1991-92 season, and they will travel without midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart, who was sent off in the final of the Spanish Supercup and is suspended.

Wesley Sneijder is out for three months with a knee injury. Butcoach Bernd Schuster should be able to call on the services of midfielder Fernando Gago, who was at the Olympic Games with gold medal winners Argentina. They will also be boosted by their 5-3 win over Sporting Lisbon in Wednesday's Santiago Bernabeu Trophy.

A new-look Barcelona kick off their season away to newly promoted Numncia and the side coached by Pep Guardiola will be looking to bounce back following their narrow Champions League defeat in Poland.

Leo Messi will be back following his gold medal win with Argentina in Beijing and he will partner Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry in a fearsome Barca attack.

Atletico Madrid will be looking to carry on the momentum from their 4-0 European triumph over Schalke 04 when they entertain Malaga in the Vicente Calderon stadium.

Atletico will once again be led by strike partnership of Kun Aguero and Diego Forlan, while new signing Ever Banega will also be available for his home debut.

Villarreal, who finished second last year, kick off their season with a potentially difficult trip to Pamplona, where Osasuna have Santi Ezquerro returning to the club where he began his career.

Elsewhere Espanyol play the first game of the new campaign at home to Valladolid. Espanyol have new first team coach "Tintin" Martinez in the dugout. Martinez has doubts over the availability of winger Albert Riera and defender Pablo Zabaleta, who are being linked with moves to Liverpool and Manchester City.

Valencia hope to recover from their poor showing last campaign when they entertain a Mallorca side, who this week signed striker Aritz Aduriz in an attempt to replace last year's top scorer Dani Guiza.

There is an Andalusia derby between Betis and Recreativo Huelva, two sides who could again struggle this time around, while Sporting Gijon celebrate their return to the Primera Liga at home to Getafe, where Victor Munoz debuts in the dugout.

Finally Athletic Bilbao aim to put an indifferent pre-season behind them at home to Almeria, who have a new coach in Gonzalo Arconada.

Source: Xinhua

Hungarian President honors top Olympians

Hungarian President Laszlo Solyomon Friday honored top Hungarian Olympians, coaches, physicians and sports officials in the Parliament Building.

Altogether 87 persons were granted state awards on Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany' proposal.

The president granted the highest honor, Grand Cross of Order of Merit to Denes Kemeny, coach of the Hungarian men's water polo team that won gold medals in three Olympics in a row.

The Middle Cross with a star of Order of Merit was granted to the six water polo players who members of all the three Olympic champion teams.

Ferenc Gyurcsany and Speaker of Parliament Katalin Szili attended the awarding ceremony.

The Hungarian Olympic team won three gold medals, five silvers and two bronzes in the Beijing Olympic Games.

Source: Xinhua

Peruvian disabled athletes left for Beijing

Four Peruvian disabled athletes traveled on Friday to Beijing to compete at the Paralympic Games.

The team is formed by swimmers Jimmy Eulert and Jose Gonzalez, weightlifter Niel Garcia and horse rider Rosa Loewenthal.

Eulert has won medals at the Paralympics in Atlanta 1996 and Sidney 2000.

"I am not under the pressure of winning a gold medal because I'm not the favorite. But we will give everything for Peru," Eulert said.

Source: Xinhua

Mexican President recognizes the medals were individual efforts

Mexican athletes who won medals during the Beijing Olympic Games achieved the success for their individual efforts, Mexican President Calderon said on Friday.

Calderon met gold medalists Maria del Rosario Espinoza and Guillermo Perez, bronze medalists Paola Espinosa and Tatiana Ortizin Los Pinos.

"Thanks to the performance of these four brilliant youngsters, Mexico advanced from the place 59, won in Athens 2004, to the place 36 in Beijing, however, I reaffirm it, I think has been more for their own and coaches' merits than as for a collective effort," Calderon said.

"The triumph they achieved is completely of them. I know you have won these medals for Mexico, but Mexico owes them to your effort, dedication and personal sacrifice you have made," Calderonsaid.

Calderon said that Mexican sports system needs a deep correction, which allows the country to move forward and grow according the size of its population, so he requested the winner athletes to help reviewing the controversy and correct it.

"I want to ask you four, your coaches, to all the athletes who went to Beijing without exception, to deeply review the national sports system and to correct it with us, that we could detect whatis not working and to reinforce it," Calderon said.

National sports is led by former soccer player Carlos Hermosillo who has been accused by several sportsmen, like Olympicmedal winner Ana Guevara did, of abandoning them to their luck.

Calderon said that the sports must become into a daily practiceof Mexicans and he requested to "make massive" the sports so the triumphs do not arrive in exceptional ways.

"We want these results, the Olympic medals and the championships to be part of a process which integrates the capacities and talent of the Mexican youngsters," Calderon said.

Calderon urged the sports community to "conquer a better place on the medal table" during the Pan American Games of Guadalajara 2011 and The Olympic Games of London 2012.

Source: Xinhua

Paralympic torch starts relay in Hohhot

The Beijing Paralympic torch relay in Hohhot started at 10:10 a.m. on Saturday at Genghis Khan Square in Northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Source: Xinhua