Sports / China

Participant numbers continue to rise

By Tang Yue (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-01 07:51

Participant numbers continue to rise

Figure skaters Wang Xuehan (left) and Wang Lei train at the Capital Gymnasiumin Beijing last week. Zou Hong / China Daily

Until last year, few people in China had ever used a bobsleigh, and the vast majority still cannot tell the difference between it and the skeleton.

Despite that, China's winter athletes are hoping to occupy places on the winners' podiums at the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be co-hosted by Beijing and Zhangjiakou city in Hebei province.

"It took Russia about seven or eight years to go from almost zero to three gold medals, so we hope we will also win medals in some new disciplines in 2022," Ren Hongguo, China's winter sports chief, said on Tuesday.

As the host country of the 2014 Sochi Games, Russia topped the gold medal table for the first time with 14 golds, including two for the bobsleigh and one for the skeleton.

So far, China has won 12 gold medals at Winter Games - in short track speedskating, speedskating, figure skating and the freestyle skiing aerials.

In a bid to expand the country's success on ice and snow, national teams have been established in six disciplines since China won the bid to host the Games, and the bobsleigh squad has hired three foreign coaches.

"In past Games, China participated in about 60 sports out of a total of more than 100, and we expect our athletes to compete in more than 90 disciplines in 2022," Ren said.

Zhao Hongbo, a figure skating gold medalist and the coach of the national team, said a lot of time and money is being invested in the preparations.

"We regularly invite world-class coaches to come and share their experience and cooperate with the best arrangers and choreographers," said Zhao, who won the pair's figure skating competition at the 2010 Vancouver Games with his wife, Shen Xue.

While the northeast - the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang - is China's traditional winter sports powerbase, people in the rest of the country are now increasingly active on ice and snow.

For instance, Beijing recently founded a winter sports team, while many schools have added skating and skiing to their winter physical education curriculum, and 12 schools in the city's Huairou district have introduced curling.

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