Coach turns to economics

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 February, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 February, 1994, 12:00am

CHINA'S legendary athletics coach Ma Junren, who shocked the world in track and field events, is seeking to make new breakthroughs in the economic front.

A China News Service report revealed that Ma has become director of the newly-set up Ma's Health Food Group Head Company - marking another giant step forward in seeking funds for a track and field training centre.

And the significance of his new initiative goes far beyond the sports centre, the quasi-official news agency said.

''Perhaps this is what the Vice-Governor of Liaoning province Wen Shizhen has said: '[We] have to transfer the achievements of Ma's Army in sports to the economic front','' it pointed out.

The report said projects in the pipeline included a range of health products with other companies, including a joint venture with a Liaoning Chinese medicine company.

The flamboyant supercoach earlier signed a deal with the Guangdong Nowaday Group, selling the formula of health food, which is said to be the secret behind a series of world record smashings in the past year.

Noting that the commercialisation of sports has become a hot topic in some quarters of the country in recent years, the agency said the new venture of coach Ma has had even wider implications.

''His action might not be applicable under all circumstances. But at least it does remind others of one thing. [The remark,] 'be bolder in mind and be faster in pace' should not be mere words,'' the report said.

The remark was reportedly made by patriarch Deng Xiaoping during his much-publicised swing in the southern provinces in 1992, which opened the stage for a new height of reform.

On the sports front, the report said the pioneering move of the supercoach might be the answer to the chronic problem of tight funds facing sporting circles.

''It is a new topic on how to turn the research findings in sports to capital . . . The move by coach Ma has changed the previous old formula of reliance of the sports sector on sponsorship from enterprises,'' it said.

The report said the partnership of Ma with other enterprises has opened up a new path for the commercialisation of sports.

adding the impact would be immeasurable.