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Olympic champion Zhang tries to stay fast and beautiful

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-01-26 11:14 Comments

Olympic champion Zhang tries to stay fast and beautiful

Zhang Hong competes in women's 1,000m speed skating final on Jan 25, 2016 at China's National Winter Games in Urumqi, Xinjiang. [Photo/Xinhua]

URUMQI - Olympic speed skating champion Zhang Hong claimed her third gold medal at the Chinese National Winter Games, although falling short of her expectations of setting a new world record.

Nevertheless, she is still the favorite of media and supporters and the first ever Chinese Olympic speed skating champion knows well about it.

"I will try hard to stay like a 'goddess'," she joked when asked how she looked at her nickname "speed skating goddess".

"After the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, I got the nickname, which shows the support of speed skating fans and it is an encouragement to me," said the fair-skinned skater, who stands at 1.74 meters and loves taking selfies.

Zhang ended China's 34-year wait for an Olympic gold in speed skating when she stormed to women's 1,000m win in the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

On Monday, Zhang powered to victory in the women's 1,000m final, clocking 1 minute 14.69 seconds to take the national title, adding to her success earlier in the 500m and 1,500m events.

But the 27-year-old Zhang, who had vowed to set a world record in Xinjiang ahead of the National Winter Games, fell short of her expectations. Her time in the 1,000m was well behind the current world mark of 1:12.51.

"I ran out of steam after yesterday's 500m final, so I failed to deliver my best form today," said Zhang. "Hopefully I can skate faster next time in Xinjiang."

Hours after the 1,000m final, Zhang will be heading for Norway for the fifth leg of the ISU World Cup series.

"The Norway World Cup race is scheduled to take place on Friday, so I have no time to rest. This World Cup event serves as a qualification for the upcoming world championships. I will try to skate as fast as I can," said Zhang.

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