Sports / China

Outdoor ceremony brings China's National Winter Games to close in Xinjiang

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-01-30 16:10

URUMQI - A splendid outdoor ceremony at the Silk Road ski resort brought to close the 13th Chinese National Winter Games Saturday afternoon, which is an opportunity to help build interest in winter sport in the country's build-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

It is for the first time since the National Winter Games were launched in 1959 that the event has been held outside the northeast provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang.

1,388 athletes spanning 52 delegations from across the world's most populous nation, including Hong Kong and Macao, competed in 97 events of five sports.

A total of 346 doping tests have been conducted until Friday, with none positive results reported, the organizers said.

This year's National Winter Games has provided opportunities for young athletes to gain experience on the road to Beijing 2022, with special events to be held for those aged 19 and under.

Zhang Hong, China's first Olympic champion in speed skating, claimed three gold medals in women's 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meters in Xinjiang.

Fan Kexin completed a golden double in short-track speedskating with victories in 500m and 1,500m. She also surpassed the previous 1,500m world record by more than half a second.

Two-time Olympic champion Zhou Yang won two gold medals as well, topping women's short track 1,000 meters in a national-record time and anchoring team Changchun to victory in the women's 3,000m relay.

Zhou aims for a hat-trick of Olympic titles in women's 1,500m in PyeongChang 2018. "I definitely want to win the 1,500m gold medal for the third straight time in PyeongChang," Zhou said after she won the event here. "No one has achieved the feat so far in winter sports."

Some events of speedskating, figure skating and aerial freestyle skiing were sold out, which reflects the rising enthusiasm of winter sports among the Chinese following Beijing's successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The next National Winter Games will take place in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in 2020.

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