Sports / China

Bronze medals for skaters' comeback pair performance

By Lei Lei (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-29 07:49

In 2007, when Sui Wenjing and Han Cong first teamed up as pair figure skaters, Pang Qing and Tong Jian finished second in the pairs competition at their ninth World Championships.

Eight years later, Sui, 19, and Han, 22, finished second at their fourth senior world championships in Shanghai in March, edging Pang and Tong to third place.

With a bronze medal in their 16th world championship, Pang and Tong, both aged 35, retired from the sport.

It was not their first retirement, as they announced their withdrawal from all competition after the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics before returning a year later to bid farewell to their fans one last time.

"After retiring from competition, our first idea was to organize skating shows for our fans to thank them for their support over all those years," Tong said. "But Pang Qing said this year the world championships are in China and why shouldn't we compete there."

Pang added that Beijing's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics was another reason the pair competed.

"Our participation in the worlds will draw more spectators to watch the event and let more people know about figure skating as a winter sport," she said. "We wanted to do something for the bid."

"I want to say thank you to my partner," Tong said after the competition. "I couldn't make this comeback without her. I am happy to give the audience two good performances here."

Having teamed up in 1993, Pang and Tong first competed at the worlds together in 1999, when several of their current Chinese teammates were just children. Their careers have been full of ups and downs and struggles with injuries.

They missed the podium at the 2008 and 2009 worlds but came back with new routines late in 2009 and regained their form to claim silver at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, where Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo took the gold in a major breakthrough for China's figure skating.

The duo gained a career high by winning the 2010 world championships.

After the pairs competition in Vancouver, Pang and Tong announced they were in love.

The pair are considered legends by their young teammates.

"Training with them on the same rink encouraged me a lot," Sui said. "We have learned a lot from them, their fighting spirits no matter whether in competitions or at daily training."

 Bronze medals for skaters' comeback pair performance

 Pang Qing and Tong Jian perform at the World Figure Skating Championships in Shanghai in March.

(China Daily 05/29/2015 page24)

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