Sports / China

Young athletes rise to the challenge

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

Young athletes rise to the challenge

Fan Kexin of China leads the pack to win the women's 500m final race of the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Moscow on March 14. Yuri Kadobnov / AFP

Winter sports squad to debut at two new sports in 2022, Lei Lei reports

China's young and relatively inexperienced winter sports squad competed at a respectable level with some emerging talents during the recently concluded 2014-15 winter season.

"After each Winter Olympics, all the teams will be in a transition period in the following season, so we didn't get many champions or gold medals," said Ren Hongguo, head of China's winter sports authority.

"But surprisingly, we have found young talents and rising stars in many teams, which is good."

In short track speed skating, China maintained its power in the short distance events, although veteran Wang Meng retired after the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Fan Kexin, 22, set a new world record in the women's 500m at the opening stop of the World Cup series and claimed the gold medal for the event at the World Championships in Shanghai.

On the men's side, Wu Dajing, 20, won the men's 500m and led the team to win the 5,000m relay at the World Championships.

"The short track speed skating team continued its systematic training after the Sochi Winter Olympics and the transition of the team is going smoothly," said Ren.

In figure skating, China's young pairs still maintained their top world level, as Sui Wenjing and Han Cong claimed the silver medal at the World Championships, overtaking comeback veteran pair Pang Qing and Tong Jian, who concluded their career with a bronze. Another Chinese pair, Peng Cheng and Zhang Hao finished fourth.

Even without the Pang-Tong pair, China's young skaters have been strong enough to continue the country's glory in the event, as Sui-Han, Peng-Zhang and another pair Yu Xiaoyu and Jin Yang gained half of the places at the Grand Prix Finals this season.

The speed skating event didn't see Olympic champion Zhang Hong continue her glory on the ice as she missed the season after the Sochi Games.

However, 21-year-old Li Qishi emerged as a promising skater in short distance events, claiming several bronze medals at the women's 1,000m during the World Cup series this season.Young athletes rise to the challenge 

Compared with the nation's results on ice, China is not that strong on the slopes, however, the past season improved prospects.

Cai Xuetong, 21, claimed the gold medal at the FIS Snowboarding World Championships in the women's halfpipe, which used to be dominated by western competitors, while her male counterpart, Zhang Yiwei, 22, won the silver.

"Cai's victory showed that our young snowboarders are rising to challenge the world top players," Ren said. "Zhang also performed well as he claimed golds at two commercial events this season."

As for the freestyle skiing aerials, in which China is always strong, Sochi Olympic silver medalist Xu Mengtao settled for bronze at the worlds and Qi Guangpu defended his world title in the men's event with the most difficult jump in the world.

In team events, the young Chinese competitors still have work to do.

The women's curling team finished fourth at the world championships with a newly formed squad, while the men's counterpart finished eighth.

The women's ice hockey team failed to reach the World Championship Division I Group A by finishing third at the Group B matches last month.

New events listed

To help the bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, China's winter sports authority is planning to add two new sports to its list - the luge and bobsleigh.

"We still have no team for these two sports but if we want to host the Winter Olympics, we have to take them into consideration," Ren said. "Now we are contacting the international federations and selecting players. Foreign coaches will be ready to work in June. But it is still difficult for us to compete at the 2018 Winter Games. We will try to make our debut at the 2022 Winter Olympics."

Contact the writer at

Most Popular
What's Hot