A hug with smile over the face after the victory is the expectation of
Swedish Per-Eric Ronnestrand, coach of the Chinese cross-country team, at the
sixth Asian Winter Games.
And Wang Chunli made it after she won the cross-country skiing women's sprint
free on Tuesday, by 0.09 seconds ahead of Yelena Kolomina from Kazakhstan.
That's the way Ronnestrand always expects from his Chinese protegee when they
are on snow: open-minded, enthusiastic and eager to win.
"Chinese athletes are easy to stay with. We exchange ideas all the time. We
are more than coach and athlete, that's the start for improvement," said
Ronnestrand, who took over the Chinese team only one year ago.
And they really started to improve and made a historical breakthrough so
quickly as the sprint title was the first ever individual cross-country gold won
by China in the Asian Winter Games.
But Ronnestrand, 43, will certainly look forward to a bigger success.
"Wang is hard-working and strong-minded. If she keeps working in the next
three years, she will possibly win the gold medal in the 2010 Olympic Games,"
said the joyful Swede, who hopes to renew his contract which runs till the end
"And China should also work on the
women's relay (for the Vancouver Winter Olympics), because we have a handful of
promising stars like Li Hongxue, Liu Yuanyuan and Man Dandan," the ambitious
Swede said of his goal.
China's Wang Chunli (4) competes
during the women's Cross-Country Skiing Finals at the Sixth Asian Winter
Games in Jilin, northeastern China's Jilin Province, January 30,
"You need to begin somewhere. I never wake up with nothing in my mind. What I
usually do is to figure out a plan and try to make it happen. Most of the people
would say it is a chance in a million but I never lose my target easily.
Chinese skiers are still lagging behind the world's top athletes, but they are
now on the up and up in the international skiing field. Besides, if you want to
hit the mark, you need to set a tough goal."
Compared to an optimistic Ronnestrand, Klaus Siebert, head coach of the
Chinese biathlon team, is more down-to-earth. However, both foreign coaches have
one thing in common at least: they are easy-going and willing to be treated like
bosom friends instead of strict coaches.
Liu Xianying embraced the 52-year-old German in front of her husband, a rare
gesture in China, after she crossed the finish line first in the women's 15km
individual race on Thursday.
"I am so grateful to Siebert, he really helps me in all respects," the
30-year-old veteran explained at the press conference. "My husband is
Kong Yingchao, winner of the women's 10km pursuit event at the Winter Asiad,
described Siebert as a humorous and accommodating person whom all the athletes
expect to stay with the Chinese team till the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
The Chinese women biathletes surprised some favorites at the Asian Winter
Games by winning three gold medals, with Liu and Kong splitting the gold and
silver medals between themselves all the time.
And China would make a clean sweep of the women's events if they take the
4x6km relay on Friday.