(Xinhua) -- Standing majestically in a once abandoned
patch of marshland on the eastern edge of the Senegalese
capital, the National Wrestling Arena is an attraction for both
visitors and locals.
The new iconic facility, built by the
Sixth Engineering Company Limited of China’s Hunan
Construction Engineering Group (HNCEG) in Dakar, was
officially handed over to local authorities on Sunday.
At the handover ceremony, visiting
Chinese President Xi Jinping passed the “golden key” of
the project to his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall,
and the two leaders enjoyed a show of traditional
The project was described as a mirage
when it began in April 2016, with significant
difficulties standing in the way, including hostile
terrain and weather, skill gaps and unavailability of
quality construction materials like steel rods.
“Draining the marshlands during the
rainy season was a Herculean task. The foundation had to
be constructed afresh on several occasions after
collapsing due to heavy rains,” said Li Zhao, a
supervisor with HNCEG.
Delivering construction materials to
the marshland was also difficult, Li said, adding that
Chinese technicians also grappled with language barriers
and cultural conflicts.
Yet they forged on and their fortitude
paid off. The biggest wrestling arena in Africa was
completed on schedule, featuring an exemplary
combination of modern engineering and human ingenuity.
(Xinhua) -- Workers from China
and Senegal work in the National Wrestling Arena in
Dakar, Senegal, on July 18, 2018.
XINHUA PHOTO: YAN YAN
Covering an area of 18,000 square
meters and able to accommodate some 20,000 spectators, the
landmark wrestling facility is set to revive a sport that has
been an integral part of Senegal’s rich culture for the last
For decades, Senegal has been
associated with soccer prowess, and few outsiders are familiar
with its wrestling tradition.
During a recent visit to the arena,
Senegalese Sports Minister Matar Ba said it has fulfilled the
dreams of his compatriots for a return of the golden era when
the sport embodied patriotism, unity and cohesion.
“The sports dreams and wrestling
dreams of the Senegalese people have taken root in the land with
the launch of this modern arena,” Ba said.
Both locals and visitors are excited
about the modern wrestling facility, which features a harmonious
blend of world-class architecture and interior design.
Xue Lichun, a lead technical expert on
the wrestling arena project, said its implementation adhered to
the best engineering practices around the world.
“The project’s implementation strictly
adhered to guidelines set out by local regulatory agencies. We
procured high-quality construction materials, and local
inspectors were on standby to ensure no rules were flouted,” Xue
The project was also a training
course. About 3,000 local employees have learned practical
skills to maintain the arena by themselves in the future, he
Amadou Cisse, a 53-year-old local
technician who participated in the project, said without China’s
advanced technology and skills, it would be impossible for the
arena to open to the public on time.
“I am very impressed by the fact that
the Chinese are very generous to impart technical knowledge to
us. At least, now we have a modern facility where our wrestling
giants will prove their mettle,” Cisse said.
Besides the arena, local residents
also enjoyed other benefits, as the Chinese enterprise funded
the construction of roads, repaired broken sewers and renovated
community halls and schools in the vicinity.
“Although China and Senegal are far
apart from each other, many cooperation projects have brought
tangible benefits to the local people and brought the hearts of
the two peoples closer,” said Chinese Ambassador to Senegal
The arena is just one example of the
deepening friendship and booming cooperation between China and
Senegal. Other instances include the National Grand Theater and
the Museum of Black Civilization.
When the night falls, the brightly lit
National Wrestling Arena shines like a pearl.
“Every time I saw local people happily
taking photos with the brand new arena, my eyes couldn’t help
getting wet, and I always got emotional,” said Li, the HNCEG