Monday, March 1, 2010

China makes historic breakthrough in winter sports at Vancouver Olympics

China's Sun Linlin (L), Wang Meng (2nd L), Zhou Yang (front in R) and Zhang Hui celebrate after the women's 3000m relay final of short track speed skating at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada, Feb. 24, 2010. China's team won the title of the event with a world-record-breaking time 4:06.610. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)
Following consecutive two-gold finish in both Salt Lake City and Turin, China made historic breakthrough in winter sports as it claimed five titles plus two silvers and four bronzes at the Vancouver Games which concluded all competitions here on Sunday.
"We have made important breakthrough at these Games," said Xiao Tian, deputy chef de mission of the largest ever Chinese Winter Sports Delegation in history.
Having sent a total of 90 athletes to the Games, China shared a seventh place at the medal tally with Sweden while tying its own 11-medal performance in Turin four years ago.
And its record medals also marked the first top-eight finish for the summer sports powerhouse in the Winter Olympics.
"Actually the five-gold finish was within my expectation before we set off for the Games, but I couldn't say that at that time because I would not want to put any pressure on the athletes," Xiao added. "Now I can speak out."
While Xiao admitted he had not expected the Chinese clean sweep in four women's short track speed skating events where Wang Meng became the first Chinese skater to win three golds at one single Winter Games.
"That was amazing," Xiao said. "The Chinese women's relay team impressed me most by taking their first gold in this event after so many years' hard work."
The 1-2 finish in the pairs figure skating by Shen Xue/Zhao Hongbo and Pang Qing/Tong Jian was also a remarkable achievement.
"The 37-year-old Zhao and his teammates not only won the medals, but also well demonstrated Olympic spirits and sportsmanship."
Although narrowly missing golds in the freestyle aerials, the Chinese could be contented with a silver and a bronze from Li Ni'na and Guo Xinxin in the women's category as well as a bronze from Liu Zhongqing in the men's.

Another pair of bronzes in the speed skating women's 500m and the women's curling, where the reigning world champion China only made its Olympic debut, completed the Chinese medal run in Vancouver.
"Despite the good results at these Games, we still have a long way to go in the development of China's winter sports," said Xiao. "It's impossible for us to reach the same level as we have done in summer sports, but we will try to minimize the gap as much as we can."
"As to my knowledge, Chinese athletes' good performance at the Games has aroused great interest to winter sports of the people back home. We should try our best to transfer their enthusiasm into participation in the sports."


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