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Olympians' spirit hailed by president
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President Xi Jinping issued a rallying call on Thursday for the Olympic spirit to be practiced in helping to realize the "China Dream" of national rejuvenation.

Meeting with the country’s athletes, who have returned from the Rio Olympics, he said the Chinese delegation’s performances at the Games had interpreted the Olympic spirit, inspiring national patriotic enthusiasm.

The meeting was attended by the athletes and all seven members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

"Thank you all for carrying forward the spirit of patriotism and national cohesion,” Xi told the athletes.

He praised the Chinese women’s volleyball team, saying that its spirit of "fighting and endurance" had motivated and inspired the nation to be dedicated to its work. The team won gold medals in Rio, 12 years after winning the title at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

China won 26 gold medals in 16 days of competition in Rio, finishing in third place in the medals table behind the United States, which won 46 golds, and Britain, with 27.

Despite ending its Rio campaign with the lowest number of golds since 1996, the Chinese delegation was praised by Xi, who asked the athletes to "face victory or defeat with a calm mind”.

Those athletes who did not win medals but performed personal bests should also be respected and recognized, the president said.

He added that the government would make more efforts to organize public fitness activities and would promote comprehensive development of both recreational and competitive sports.

Liu Peng, head of China’s General Administration of Sport, said that among the 42 athletes who won gold medals in Rio, 23 are young people competing in their first Olympics.

Hui Ruoqi, captain of the Chinese women’s volleyball team, told China Daily after the meeting that just as the president had referred to, the "Chinese women’s volleyball spirit" has "always been there" and has inspired the players, no matter whether the team wins or loses.

"Coach Lang Ping is a former national player (during the 1980s when Chinese women’s volleyball first rose to fame), and as a result, she could give us more direct and useful instructions,” Hui said.

Du Li, who won a silver medal in the women’s 10m air rifle and a bronze in the women’s 50m rifle in Rio, said she has a "deep understanding" of Xi’s remarks about the Chinese sporting spirit of endurance and persistence.

"I faced lots of challenges, both from the outside world and personally. Finally, I overcame the difficulties through this fighting spirit,” said Du, who won gold at the Athens Olympics and in Beijing in 2008.

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