by Peter Mertz
LARAMIE, the United States, July 31 (Xinhua) -- In 1994, Zhu Qin was one of the top junior badminton players in China headed for the Olympics.
But when the Shanghai University of Sport (SUS) presented an opportunity, young Zhu shifted gears to sports education science -- long representing the unanswered questions to his pursuit for excellence.
"It was an opportunity I could not pass," he told Xinhua.
As an athlete, Zhu had learned about preparation, training and discipline, but had long wondered how to maximize his performance through sports science.
Zhu first became a coach, then an umpire, and 18 years ago, Zhu came to the United States for the final answers, one Ph.D. and a professorship.
SHANGHAI AND LARAMIE
Shanghai is China's largest city with about 25 million people. Laramie, a city in the U.S. state of Wyoming, has 32,306 people.
This month, a historic pact was finalized between the two very different cities.
America's Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs sits at 6,000 feet (about 1830 meters), located 200 miles (about 322 km) south of Laramie in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Shanghai lies more than a mile below Laramie in elevation, yet is almost 100 times the size of this small American city.
There could not be a better example of "A Tale of Two Cities" -- Shanghai and Laramie -- the biggest city in the most populous country in the world and a tiny town in the least populated state in the United States.
"We signed two agreements with the Shanghai University of Sport to develop the International University of Wyoming, (and) Shanghai University of Sport Kinesiology Center," said Derek Smith, who runs the UW's Kinesiology and Health Division.
Smith told Xinhua that under the new international center, "we will be operating a number of programs including an educational teaching program for Nordic skiing," and that exchanges with other Chinese universities regarding biomedicine are in the works.
Chinese students are gearing up and getting ready for a winter in Wyoming, where "training from renowned international faculty" is waiting, not a surprise with China's emphasis on the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Smith added.
After Zhu finished his Ph.D. in human performance at Indiana University in 2008, he didn't go for the quick money.
Instead, Zhu traveled to the foothills of Wyoming's Rocky Mountains to continue his quest for sports performance perfection, to conduct research, and to mentor others as a professor in the UW's Kinesiology and Health Division.
"I was always interested in what would it take to approve an athlete's performance, and through the UW's resources and education, I was able to pursue pedagogy and other areas in the whole new world of sports science that includes kinesiology," he told Xinhua.
One of Zhu's top students Huang Shaochen, 28, from Hebei Province, has completed a master's degree at the UW and is currently finishing his Ph.D.
Huang credits his academic success to the UW's amazing resources and flexible curriculum that allowed him to explore his diverse interests, he told Xinhua.
While Zhu hopes to recruit more talented Shanghai students like Huang, his legacies in and connections to China continue to grow.
Just two weeks ago, he attended the opening ceremony for the Chinese Institute of Badminton at the SUS, which will be working collaboratively with the UW on not just promoting badminton in the United States, but researching techniques to optimize performance in badminton.