Li Zihan was so excited to see a brand new pair of roller skates, knowing that he could finally throw away his old pair that had been worn for three years.
"Look, look, the new ones are much better, they feel more comfortable and breathable!" Li shouted to his physical education teacher when trying on a pair of black roller skates on Friday morning. He was at school and just attended a ceremony for handing out the new roller skates.
Li, 12, is a Grade 6 student at Bayi Hope Center Primary School in Chengnanzhuang town, Hebei province.
Before Friday, he had been eagerly looking forward to this day, because his PE teacher said provincial sports authorities would hand out scores of new roller skates to the school and students could use them in PE classes.
"I am also very excited, because each of my students can wear a pair of roller skates during PE classes, rather than only sharing a few pairs," said his PE teacher Li Nan.
The Hebei Provincial Bureau of Sport brought 56 pairs of roller skates and protective gear to the school on Friday, part of measures to encourage more students to take part in the sport.
"The facilities at schools in rural areas are still backward compared with those in cities. It hinders broader student participation in winter sports," said Zhang Zefeng, head of the bureau.
The bureau earmarked more than 20 million yuan ($3 million) this year for the purchase of more than 100,000 pairs of roller skates.
They will be distributed to about 1,700 primary schools in the province's rural areas and more than 800,000 kids will thus have the chance to roller skate," Zhang said.
The handing-out ceremonies were held in five other schools in Hebei on Friday, all located in counties that have just shaken off poverty this year.
"We are planing to set up a roller skating society for students who have good skills and put them into competitions and games outside the county," said Xin Xiangyan, the school's principal.
Xin said the roller skates will intrigue more students to participate in the sport. "Every one of my students will at least know and can do one or two skating moves in the near future," Xin said.