Interview of the Month: Gou Zhongwen, IWUF President

Interview of the Month: Gou Zhongwen, IWUF President

Boosting The World Games Brand

The International Wushu Federation (IWUF) and the International Sambo Federation are the new members of The World Games family. In the IWGA Interview of the Month, the IWUF President Gou Zhongwen himself introduces his federation and his sport. Mr. Gou Zhongwen also says why Wushu is a perfect fit for The World Games. We also present Sambo with an interview of the President. This interview will be published separately, one day later.

Be so kind and introduce your Federation to audiences that are not so familiar with IWUF.

Gou Zhongwen: Wushu – also known popularly as Kungfu – is a sport that originated in China, with a long, deep cultural and philosophical history. The IWUF was established in 1990. It is the international federation that governs Wushu in all its forms world-wide. The IWUF’s vision encompasses making Wushu both an Olympic sport and a healthy way of life for all people around the globe. The IWUF has now 155 national/territorial member federations across five continents. At present, we estimate there are about 120 million people in the world practicing Wushu, including more than 70 million youth participants. Taiji is quite popular among people of all ages, and last year it was added to UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Competitive Wushu involves unique fighting skills and various kinds of equipment and is composed mainly of two major disciplines: Taolu, a routine martial arts manœuvre, and Sanda, a restricted combat. In our last World Wushu Championships, held in Shanghai in 2019, nearly 1,000 elite athletes from 102 countries participated.

What makes your sport special?

Gou Zhongwen: Wushu is long in history, rich in content and unique in culture. Our sport is distinctively combative and culturally profound, taking oriental traditional philosophy and ideologies of ethnics, health-preservation, militancy and aesthetics etc. as its theoretical basis. It stresses “wushu for peace”, “harmony between man and nature” and “unity of body and mind”.

Wushu, as a sport ideally suited for all kinds of people and all ages, offers an excellent way to improve mental and physical fitness, while having educational functions to cultivate people’s characteristics and personalities. Our sport is also easy to practice, with few limits on space and low-cost equipment. During the pandemic, it has been embraced as a health-benefitting sport easily practiced by individuals. The IWUF has been working very hard to promote this aspect, encouraging wide participation and bringing people together in a positive community on our virtual platforms.

What reactions did you receive from your association to the successful bid?

Gou Zhongwen: We released the successful bid news via our official website www.iwuf.org, and all our social media channels, and through formal letters to our IWUF Executive Board, Committee Members and all member federations. Immediately we received many favourable congratulations and comments, and it’s clear that so many people - who have been working hard for this moment for so long – are truly excited by the news that we have joined The World Games family.

Why did IWUF apply to become part of The World Games family?

Gou Zhongwen: We became affiliated to GAISF in 1994 and recognised by IOC in 2002, and have cooperation with WADA, FISU, and ISF. However, joining the IWGA is for the IWUF a unique achievement, and gives the opportunity to develop and improve the prominence of our sport around the globe, particularly through active participation in The World Games. We believe that joining The World Games family will foster deeper bonds among both our worldwide Wushu community and between Wushu athletes and all other athletes internationally.

How would you describe the asset that IWUF brings to the family as a new member?

Gou Zhongwen: The IWGA presently has a rich offering of Asian martial arts, but Wushu’s deep Chinese cultural and philosophical foundation will add ideal balance. We stand for more than just a system of attack and defence. It has become a way to cultivate the body, mind and spirit in a positive way that is beneficial to all that practice it. This makes Wushu an ideal match for the IWGA’s mission of supporting sport for the well-being of society. The IWUF is fully aligned with the IWGA in promoting values of high sporting achievement, but also of sportsmanship, respect, and friendship among nations, now more important in the global perspective than ever.

Our elite young Wushu athletes will help bring the passion and enthusiasm of our sport to The World Games family. We also believe dynamic action and strong visual appeal will offer the Games an exciting new sport for its own spectators. Wushu is dynamic and entertaining to watch, and we hope the addition of Wushu will attract more attention and help boost the international influence of the IWGA and The World Games as a brand.

Wushu has its own history concerning The World Games history. Do you have any memories of performing at The World Games 2009 and 2013? And, of course, what do you expect from your partaking in the 2022 event?

Gou Zhongwen: For the Wushu athletes participating in these international events it was a deeply meaningful experience, and the chance to establish community relationships with athletes from so many other sports was incredible. In the upcoming 2022 Birmingham World Games, the experience will be different – IWUF will be a new member of the IWGA, and this will offer our athletes, officials and fans a new sense of inclusion in this prominent sport association. After the global pandemic, The World Games 2022 in Birmingham will be even more special as we join on a world stage together again; and we will be undeniably more appreciative and cognizant of how precious this opportunity is to gather together as a global sport family and share experience, friendship and community.

How do you compare The World Games to other multi-sport events?

Wushu has been added to many major international multi-sport events including the Asian Games, World University Games and World Combat Games. Each of these events has helped Wushu grow and develop in a unique way. Participating in the World Games offers elite Wushu athletes a true world stage upon which to compete at possibly the highest platform for non-Olympic events. The IWUF and its stakeholders will gain wide opportunities to create more exposure for Wushu to an international audience, and the status and profile of the IWUF will be greatly enhanced. In addition, our federation will also benefit from the event by gaining the opportunity to interact with other sport federations, sport leaders and IWGA officials to widen our knowledge and perspectives of global sport organisation.

 The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in The World Games.

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