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Ma goes from head of state to head of the pack in 400m walk

The China Post news staff--President Ma Ying-jeou beat all other heavyweights from his administration to win the 400-meter walk at the central government sports day in Taipei yesterday.

The president, donning a pair of shorts, a polo shirt and a baseball cap, clocked 2 minutes 36 seconds, having led fellow competitors right from the start.

But he did not seem too satisfied with the result, saying he could have done better. He said he usually jogs, but seldom trains for walking.

Premier Sean Chen, who was seen happily waving to supporters all through the walk, came last, finishing in 3 minutes 33 seconds.

The annual sports day was an event featuring all central government bodies.

The president said that “physical strength is national strength.” To strengthen the nation one has to strengthen one's own body first, he said.

Ma, who loves jogging and swimming, said Taiwanese people generally lack sufficient exercise, and excess weight is a problem for one in two every men, one in every three women, and one in every four children.

Last year the Department of Health arranged a weight-losing activity to have people collectively shed 1,000 tons, Ma noted. It attracted 720,000 participants, setting a world record.

He also noted that after taking office, he realized that the military troops needed to build up their physical strength.

He said he raised the requirements for physical tests, such as more push-ups and sit-ups for the troops, and the capability of running 3,000 meters.

After three years, the passing rate had gone up to 71 percent from 28 percent, he said.

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President Ma Ying-jeou leads other high-ranking government officials in the 400-meter walk at the central government sports day in Taipei, yesterday. The president crossed the finish line first in a time of 2 minutes 36 seconds.

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