Orienteering gains popularity among Wuhan residents
Wu Guoxiu

Orienteering, a major military sport, is growing as a leisure activity in China. In Wuhan,  capital of Hubei Province, some children begin from three years old.

For Lei Yuli's family, the sport is a hobby. Eight-year-old Lei Tianxiang has won matches in the province since the age of three.

"We first began in a game for families,  says dad Lei Yuli. "I told him it was finding treasures. He ran 2.8 kilometers without stopping while he was three." 

In Wuhan, clubs and teams can find many places for training, mostly in mountains, sometimes in a park. The team of China Central Normal University trains four times a week.

"When we first began training as freshmen, we always got lost. It was very frustrating. I've got lost in both training and formal matches. But my best score was No.1 in the national championship this August," says Peng Ying, the team leader, who is a third-year sports major.

"Orienteering is a fashionable and young sport," says coach Pang Yanli says. "It matches well with college students' pursuit of new things, freedom and self-challenging."

Orienteering has been a public sport in China since the late 1980s, though a national association was formed only after 2000. 

"As one of the youngest sports in the State Sport Administration, orienteering has developed from primary level matches to professional ones, like the national championship and youth championship, and then to tourism-related matches for the public," says Zhang Guangshuo, project manager of the Chinese Radio Sports & Orienteering Association.

For families like the Leis, orienteering represents a bond of love.