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Disconsolate Wang laments poor finish

Updated: 2014-02-14 07:21
By Lei Lei in Sochi, Russia ( China Daily)

China's main speed skating hope, Wang Beixing, cut a forlorn figure after finishing a disappointing seventh in the women's 500m event on Tuesday.

What was supposed to be a graceful Olympic farewell for the 28-year-old turned out to be "very regretful and sad".

"I'm feeling very bad, very regretful," said Wang after the race, in which Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea successfully defended her Olympic title.

China has been a slowly emerging force in women's 500m speed skating for nearly a decade.

Ye Qiaobo claimed China's first Winter Olympics medal when she finished second in the 500m at the 1992 Albertville Games in France. After that, China missed out on any medal at the Games and had to wait 12 years to get another silver - from Wang Manli at the 2006 Turin Games.

Four years later, in Vancouver, Wang Beixing claimed bronze.

China's reigning world champion, Yu Jing, withdrew from the Sochi Games at the last minute due to the recurrence of an injury, placing pressure on Wang to at least medal for the country as she had shown good lead-up form and won silver at the 2013 world championships.

"I stumbled three times during training recently, which is very rare in my career," Wang said with tears in her eyes.

"The stumbles cast shadows for me so I didn't do well in the race. My result should have been better."

When she first began skating, at seven, Wang was trained in short track.

After two years she adapted her skills to long track skating and was chosen for her provincial team, Heilongjiang, at the age of 15.

Three years later she went to train in Canada with Kevin Crockett, the current coach of Olympic gold medalist Lee. Following the Vancouver Games she turned to Jeremy Wotherspoon, a multiple world champion.

After three Winter Olympics, Wang said Sochi would be her last, but that might change now as she says she still has something to prove.

"I worked for four years for a goal, but I didn't reach it today. The psychological gap is so big," she said. "But sport requires a fighting spirit, not only for winning. I haven't decided my future yet. Anything is possible."

Wang's younger teammate, Zhang Hong, 25, narrowly missed out on the bronze medal by finishing fourth in her Olympic debut.

"I felt very satisfied with my result in the 500m," said Zhang.

"Finishing fourth and seventh is not a satisfactory result and lets us know China's speed skating is still in need of reform," said Xiao Tian, deputy chef de mission of the Chinese delegation.

"We have to not only invite foreign coaches to help, but also have to seek scientific training methods. China's speed skating is still, to some extent, conservative and closed up."

 Disconsolate Wang laments poor finish

China's Wang Beixing competes in the women's 500m speed skating event at Sochi on Tuesday. Andrej Isakovic / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 02/14/2014 page23)