Team China targeting glory in old favorites on the ice as well as some snowy surprises
Boasting traditional strength on ice and emerging talent on snow, China looks set to show it is closing the gap to the world's winter sports superpowers at Pyeongchang 2018.[Special Coverage]
For Chinese reporters at previous Games, the Winter Olympics usually involved staying around the ice sports venues. This year in Pyeongchang, however, Team China's expanding prowess means journalistic resources are being more evenly spread across all three venue clusters in the South Korean host city.
Although not the biggest team in terms of athlete numbers, the Chinese delegation in Pyeongchang is the most diversified group since the country's Winter Olympics debut in 1980 in New York. A total of 82 athletes will compete in 55 events－11 of those making their Olympic debut－across five sports through Feb 25.
China's biggest Winter Olympics team was at the Vancouver Games, where 91 athletes competed, including our women's hockey team.
Gou Zhongwen, the delegation chief and China's sports minister, has urged Chinese Olympians to do their best on and off the ice and snow to represent the country's rising winter sports ambitions.
"We've sensed the intense fighting atmosphere since landing in Pyeongchang. Our athletes are well prepared and so eager to come out to vie with the world's best," Gou said during a pre-Games mobilization meeting in Pyeongchang.
"Yet we shall present the best manner and stick to the clean-competition principle while making the greatest effort for good results. The performance here－whatever our eventual number of medals－matters a lot to promote the profile of winter sports and inspire greater participation back home," he said.
The national program to boost winter sports participation has yielded impressive results, highlighted by some Olympic debuts for China at the Pyeongchang Games.
The country's bobsled team, which was only established after Beijing won the right to host the 2022 Games in 2015, managed to qualify in the two-man and four-man events through a bold strategy of cross-sport talent selection and overseas training over the past two years.
Former shot put thrower Shao Yijun will now utilize his body weight to generate enough downhill speed in the four-man race－a test of speed, steering and guts.
"To be able to appear in Pyeongchang with our sled is already a success for us, given that we had to start from zero, with nothing in terms of expertise and facilities to develop this niche sport," said Shao, who was drafted in a cross-sport audition in 2015 from the Shanghai athletics team.