Time for veterans to shine

Updated: 2014-02-06 08:21:06

( China Daily) Lei Lei

It's not much of a record compared to the grizzled veterans of international media, but it's still difficult to believe I'm here in Sochi to cover my third Winter Olympic Games.

I'm also aware that for China's veteran athletes, this is the time to shine.

Time for veterans to shine

China’s speedskaters practice at Adler Arena last week in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. PHIL NOBLE / REUTERS

My first Winter Olympics, the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, also marked the swansong for Yang Yang, China's superstar of speedskating. She led the women's short track team to one gold medal, one silver and two bronze.

Yang successfully passed the flag to Wang Meng, who was the 500m gold medalist in Turin and dominated women's short track in the following years.

Wang Manli also shone in Turin. A silver medal in the women's 500m left the then 33-year-old in tears as she was expected to take the gold on the basis of her consistently superb performances over the two years leading up to the Games, but that is the nature of this very competitive sport.

At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Canada, the spotlight was on China's figure skaters. Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo broke Russia's 46-year stranglehold on the pairs event with a mesmerizing performance, claiming China's first Olympic gold medal in the sport.

At 36 and competing in her third Olympics, Zhao was the oldest athlete in the Chinese delegation at Vancouver and the second oldest Olympic champion in the event's history. Pang Qing and Tong Jian, who won silver, were also third-time Olympians.

In Sochi, we will not see short track favorite Wang Meng, 28, defend her titles as she withdrew from the Games because of a serious ankle injury. But Pang and Tong, both 34, will be going all out to cap a perfect ending to their careers in their fourth Winter Games.

Another medal hope for China is women's freestyle skiing aerials world champion Li Nina, 30.

As workers race against the clock to finish the media hotel ahead of Friday's opening ceremonies, I'm looking forward to watching these veteran athletes carry China's hopes.

Once again, it is their time to shine.

Contact the writer at leilei@chinadaily.com.cn