Young Wang glides into short track leading role

By Lei Lei (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-11 09:01

Wang Meng is shouldering much more responsibility than a young athlete should bear.

Young Wang glides into short track leading role

The 24-year-old (pictured) is the only member of China's short track speed skating team to have participated at a Winter Olympic Games and is the defending champion in the women's 500m race.

However, the "veteran" skater says she is ready to carry the burden at the Vancouver Games in February as captain of the team and wants to lead it to greater glory.

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"My goal at the Vancouver Games is not only to strive for gold medals myself but to lead the young skaters to good results as well," said Wang, who was appointed team captain a year ago.

"At the last Games I was not in this position because there were more veterans in the team. This time, I believe I have those (leadership) qualities."

At the 2006 Turin Winter Games, her Olympic debut, Wang claimed gold in the 500m but was disqualified in the 3,000m relay when she blocked the Canadian team. The relay gold is the one she most wants to claim in February.

"Among all the championships, the one I covet is the relay gold because it represents the strength of a country in skating," she said.

Young Wang glides into short track leading role

Wang has continued her great form in the 500m this season, winning all four stops of the ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup series to be ranked No 1. She also tops the standings in the 1,000m after winning one event and finishing second twice.

The Chinese women's team, as a whole, has made a fine start to the Olympic season, beating archrivals South Korea in the relays.

"All the media, fans, teammates and coaches have piled high expectations on me so, of course, I have felt pressure," Wang told China Daily. "The pressure is heavy on my shoulders but, as the coach told me, I have to turn such pressure into motivation that will push me to improve. I think I'm dealing with it well right now.

"I'm not sure what the situation will be when the gun fires at the Olympics but I will try to do my best."

The officials who have put their faith in Wang are not concerned about her ability to cope with the added responsibility.

"Wang always controls herself very well and has a strong mind," Yang Zhanwu, manager of the team, told China Daily. "She is a stable performer and will set a good example.

"The whole team's preparations are going smoothly right now. We will strive for better results than those at the last Games."

At the 2006 Turin Winter Games, the Chinese short track team claimed one gold, one silver and three bronze medals.

At the end of last month's National Championships, 20 skaters were selected to train for the national team and the final list of 10 Olympic participants will be decided before the deadline for submissions.

Apart from Wang, all the other team members are about 20 but most have plenty of experience competing on the international stage, especially rising star Zhou Yang.

Zhou, 18, is the world No 1 in the women's 1,500m and she is a strong contender for gold at the Olympics.

"Although I'm the only one with Olympic experience, I am very glad the young skaters are in a good mood right now and feel no pressure," said Wang. "We will follow the guidance of our coach and grow even stronger through training.

"At the Olympics, we hope to reach our best form of course, I am expecting more than one gold medal in 2010. Only one (gold medal) will be a let down for me."

Team officials remain more cautious and have reminded the young team to watch out for their opponents.

"Although South Korea didn't do well in the World Cup, they always improve before Olympics and we still have a lot to learn from them," Yang said.

"The US skaters have improved substantially in long-distance races and the host Canadians are strong at short distances. We face a big challenge at the Games but we will do our best."