Springfield College, in collaboration with Beijing Sport University, has welcomed five world-class athletes to the campus this semester from China as part of the Springfield College Language American Studies Program (CLASP). The national and world champions in the areas of taekwondo, short track speed skating, rowing, weightlifting, and shooting, have been improving their English skills so they can travel as coaches internationally more comfortably.
“I want to become a professional rowing coach after I finish my studies here at Springfield College,” said Tian Liang, who references one of her best moments as an athlete was standing on the championship podium, and hearing the national anthem of her native China playing. “The experience here at Springfield College will allow me to improve my English skills, and I can also learn from some great coaches at the College.”
Despite all five visitors officially having retired from international competition in their respective sports, the passion for teaching, coaching, and officiating on the world-championship level is still very evident for these elite competitors.
“I want to remain involved in my sport as a referee, and improving my English skills will allow me to do that at a high level,” said Luo Wei, 2004 Gold Medalist in Taekwondo at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. “Being able to be a referee makes me feel like it’s an extension of my athletic career.”
Following their successful athletic careers, it’s obvious the mission of these special guests is focused on helping future athletes achieve their full potential in competition.
“I always want to see athletes happy and achieving their goals,” said Yang Lian, a world-champion weight lifter. “No matter what country they are from, you always want to see individuals achieve their potential. That is a big reason why we are at Springfield College, to have the opportunity to improve our communication skills, learn from the great coaches at Springfield College, and help those future athletes reach their dreams.”
Springfield College has a strong reputation in the areas of sport, and exercise science and sport studies throughout China, which has led to a long-standing relationship with Springfield College and Beijing Sport University. The two institutions signed their first formal agreement in 1981, and they have exchanged visitors throughout the partnership.
The Springfield College CLASP program is a very important component to the collaboration between Springfield College and Beijing Sport University. The CLASP program is an English program in collaboration with the International Language Institute of Massachusetts (ILI). Classes are held at Springfield College as part of one and two semester programs from September to December and January to May. Summer sessions are also offered.
The CLASP program can be a stand-alone study abroad program or an ESL pathway to a Springfield College degree program.
“My goal coming to Springfield College has been to improve my English skills so I can use it as part of my job as I get ready for the 24th Winter Olympics being held in China in four years,” said Lin Meng, who competed as a world-class short-track speed skater. “This has been a great experience, I want to continue to stay in touch with Springfield College.”