Dongguan From the Underground: A Good Sport

LOBO (吴志鹏) with the Fighter Team

LOBO (吴志鹏) with the Fighter Team

Back in 2008, a wolf was born. Nailing gaps with a thrashing bike flying in tow, Dongguan BMX riders were regularly treated to impressive displays of athleticism.

“When I started doing BMX in 2008, the more senior riders in the group named me Lobo (wolf in Spanish) to honor my fierce approach to BMX,” said Lobo (吴志鹏), BMX rider and owner of Fighter Bike Shop.

This was all back in the beginnings of the peak popularity for the sport in Dongguan and China. These days, just four local, professional teams typically participate in about six to seven competitions per year. The stakes are high, as every team wants the glory for themselves—to be crowned the kings of Dongguan’s BMX community—but friendship still matters.

“Since the beginning, we were all close. Even in competitions, we may have had our teams, but we also competed as individuals. We all enjoyed the adrenaline needed for victory. After it was all over, we let the passion go and we still could be good friends. Friendship always comes first, competitions later,” Lobo explained.

Wes Monkman

Wes Monkman

Though, not all sports in Dongguan require such desperation. Wes Monkman was a longtime skateboarder, but now has largely left the sport in favor of slacklining, which features a flat rope, or slackline, tied between two trees to serve as a sort of tightrope. Being successful here means meditation and balance.

“I watched a video on how to do it, set it up and tried for about three hours. In the first day, I was only able to take about five quick steps. I continued on, but I really thought it was impossible. Then, I bought a shorter line. The next day, I was able to walk from one end to the other. I kept progressing from there,” said Wes.

A casual onlooker to slacklining might think it looks easy, but it’s not. Usually, beginners will need ample time just to find the footing needed to start doing tricks. Wes is already there after a month of practice. As his skills continue to increase and enthusiasm grows, the priority is to keep in good condition.

“I stopped skating because when I do it, I get hurt. I just can’t take it easy. I skate to have fun and throw myself around. Because of this, I have many issues. I want to get deeper into slacklining, so I need to leave skating and stay healthy,” he reasoned.

Xiao Hua (小华) with Parkour & Freerun Team

Xiao Hua (小华) with Parkour & Freerun Team

Taking advantage of the eclectic features of the modern cityscape, parkour enthusiasts Xiao Yu (小羽) and Xiao Hua (小华) have spent years propelling their bodies through in human twists and spins to test the extent of their ability and bravery.

“At first, I fooled around with it by myself without any training. When I met my team’s leader—who was more experienced in parkour—I was led to work at the trampoline park in 769 Creative Park, which is not only a place for working, but also training. He taught me in a more professional way,” said Xiao Yu.

Unlike other sports, which require certain tools like a ball or a bike to participate, parkour only requires a healthy body and bold fearlessness.

Xiao Yu (小羽)

Xiao Yu (小羽)

“I get a lot of freedom out of it. You need swimming pool for swimming, basketball for playing basketball. Parkour is the only sport that can be done anywhere, anytime,” explained Xiao Yu.

“I also get a much greater feeling of achievement every time I finish some move or another challenge,” added Xiao Hua.

Now the pair, which form part of DG’s Parkour and Freerun group, are making steady progress on their craft and already looking ahead to the future.

“Before, I was so shy and quiet, but now I am becoming more outgoing because I want to know more people who might have the same interest. ‘Do you like sports?’ is the first question I ask new friends. I want to spend every minute of my day to improve my level and for others to feel that way, too,” mentioned Xiao Yu with beaming satisfaction.

Category Cover Stories