Distinguished guests, players and coaches, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
I’m delighted to be invited to attend the award ceremony and celebration dinner of the inaugural Chengdu-Australian Open University Tennis Championship today.
I want to congratulate not only the winning university, but all the teams and players who have participated in this championship for your wonderful skills, spirit and passion. And I must thank Tennis Australia and its partner – the Chengdu Sports Bureau - for initiating and organising such a fantastic tournament.
Sport is a universal language. The spirit of sport—competition, teamwork and fair play—helps to build trust between countries and bring people together.
Sport is also an integral part of Australia’s cultural DNA. We perform well in sports that make use of our wide-open spaces, plentiful sunshine and water-loving lifestyle. We are a leader in sport innovation, sports management, coaching, training, sports technology and medical sciences.
Sport has been one of the most dynamic aspects of Australia’s bilateral relationship with China. We have close collaborations in sports like tennis, basketball, swimming, and soccer. Many Chinese athletes, such as tennis star Li Na, have won championship titles in Australia and are loved and admired by Australians.
We are looking forward to partnering with Chengdu in its goal to be a leading centre for sports in west China, with a reputation for healthy lifestyles and liveability.
As the Australian Consul-General in southwest China, I’m particularly proud to see the longstanding but ever growing relationship between the Australian Open and Chengdu.
As early as 2006, Zheng Jie, who is a female player from Chengdu, won the Australian Open women’s doubles. She is now committed to passing on her skills and knowledge to younger generations in this region.
In November last year, Tennis Australia successfully rolled out its tennis for schools program in Chengdu as part of the Australian Government’s Asian Sports Partnerships initiative. The program was adapted to cater specifically for Chengdu primary school students, in order to encourage physical activity and promote community sport through tennis.
And two weeks ago, the Australian Open reached an agreement with Luzhou Laojiao, a Chinese baijiu or liquor maker in Sichuan, on a record-breaking strategic business partnership.
The success of the Chengdu-Australian Open University Tennis Championship this week is the next step in that deepening relationship. I look forward to seeing this tournament continue to grow and prosper in the years ahead.
Once again, let me congratulate the winning team. I know you will have an extraordinary experience at the Australian Open in Melbourne in January and a wonderful trip to Australia.
I also wish everyone all the best for your futures; may you hit aces in all areas of your life!