Warm welcome for Team China

Updated 2018-02-08 09:45:01 China Daily

Chinese athletes and coaches dance to Korean pop music following a flag-raising ceremony ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Wednesday. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY

Chinese Olympians enjoyed a warm reception amid deep winter chill at Gangneung Olympic Village on Wednesday, boosting their morale ahead of a challenging Winter Games campaign.[Special Coverage]

The freezing cold in host city Pyeongchang has curtailed most outdoor activities in its Gangneung district, but the cheerful scene at the Olympic Village on Wednesday brought the deserted streets back to life.

After a solemn flag-raising ceremony at the international square in the village, about 80 Chinese athletes and coaches joined the host's dancers and traditional artists to the dynamic rhythm of Korean pop music.

The strong sense of ritual and pride when China's flag topped the pole served as a special motivation for the nation's young Olympians.

"That's why the Olympics are always special. This exact moment makes you feel the fire is burning up inside and you become so excited that you can't wait any longer to go out there and compete for your country," said men's short-track speed skater Wu Dajing, who is making his Olympic debut in Pyeongchang.

The 23-year-old Wu, a two-time 500m world champion, said watching the unique Pungmul show, a traditional Korean folk performance including drumming and dancing, helped him loosen up ahead of what he knows will be an intense competition.

"You can't help but join them in the dance. It warmed us up and helped us to relax a little bit before the real competitions begin," said Wu.

Team China is competing in 55 different events. Gao Zhidan, deputy head of the delegation, encouraged the athletes to embrace the Pyeongchang test as a learning curve to improve their standing in ice and snow sports.

"I hope our athletes can observe and learn from their elite counterparts in the mainstream events at the Winter Olympics to prepare for a greater performance at home when the Games come to Beijing in four years," he said after the ceremony.

"Still, we won't give up any chances of fighting for gold medals as we want to demonstrate that China is improving in winter sports," he added.

Gao also revealed that three-time Olympic gold medalist short-track skater Zhou Yang will be Team China's flagbearer at Friday's opening ceremony.

Pyeongchang will generate a record 102 gold medals from 15 disciplines across seven sports. About 29,000 athletes from 92 NOCs are competing, served by 14,500 volunteers.

This is China's 11th consecutive appearance at the Winter Olympics since its debut at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, New York.

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