Chinese Athletes Prepare to Depart After Successful Semester

UW News Release – December 8, 2010

The 2010 Chinese Champions program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is winding up a highly successful inaugural session amid news that the innovative exchange has been extended for three additional years.

The groundbreaking program allowed eight Olympic-caliber Chinese student-athletes and coaches to live and study at UW-Madison as part of a partnership with Beijing University of Sport.

The success of the collaboration exceeded the expectations of the Chinese visitors, their UW-Madison hosts and members of the Chinese community in Madison.

The group was honored at an emotional farewell banquet on Dec. 5 and will soon be departing campus to travel in the U.S. before returning to Beijing.

In addition, the Champions group will be honored by Chancellor Biddy Martin before the Board of Regents at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, in the Main Lounge of Memorial Union as part of a larger presentation on China.

“From our hearts, we want to thank you for the patient teaching in English and kinesiology,” said Wang Bingyu, a curler, who won a bronze medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. “We also thank the community of Chinese and U.S. students who provided us a great deal of help studying and getting used to everything here.”

“We’re greatly moved by your love of UW-Madison and the relationships you’ve established with the university and community,” said Li Li Ji, a UW-Madison professor of kinesiology who created the program. “You have been excellent students and ambassadors — and now, once a Badger, always a Badger.”

Noting the emotions of the athletes and guests at the farewell banquet, Division of International Studies Dean Gilles Bousquet told the athletes that “tears are a sign of the success of this program — a sign that you have made good friends. You said you learned a lot while in Wisconsin, and we have also learned a great deal from you. You have been generous with your time and made good impressions with the many people you have met on campus and in the community.”

Bousquet presented the group with mortar boards and tassels, a tangible sign of their accomplishments in completing the debut Champions program.

The aim of the program was to provide the student-athletes, who are currently enrolled in graduate studies at Beijing University of Sport, with a nondegree seminar to build their English, science, leadership and coaching skills.

In addition to kinesiology studies, English as a Second Language classes and athletic training, the group was able to tour Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago, attending sporting events, visiting area sports-related businesses and clubs and appearing at other civic events.

They enjoyed a thrilling UW football season, appeared on the Camp Randall field during a game, toured Devil’s Lake, saw President Obama during his visit and experienced Halloween on State Street. They also received a warm welcome in Eagle Heights, a community populated by international students.

In China, successful Olympic athletes are national heroes. Upon their return home to China they will move into jobs in coaching, government or sports management.

Chancellor Biddy Martin met with officials from Beijing Sport University during her recent November trip to China, signing an agreement for three additional classes of students to visit UW-Madison. The next group is expected in 2011, with a set of athletes yet to be determined.

“This was a team effort and many people came together quickly to make it happen,” Bousquet said. “Now we will build on what we have learned.”

For more information on UW-Madison’s efforts in China, visit