Gao Zhidan: breakthrough in snow sports was unexpected but a somewhat natural result


Special sportsdispatch (by Zhang Han) of Xinhua News Agency from Lillehammer, February 18 - Snowsports — always been a weak link in winter sports for China — have achieved asuccession of breakthroughs at the Lillehammer Winter Youth Olympic Games forthe past two days. After witnessing China’s first “Olympic” medal forcross-country skiing on the 18th, Gao Zhidan, head of the Chinesedelegation, says that the accomplishment is both unexpected and somehow onlynatural.

Since the unprecedented claim to the topspot in the distinctively “Youth Olympic” biathlon double medley relay by the17-year-old Meng Fanqi and the 16-year-old Zhu Zhenyu on the 17th,Chi Chunxue—another 17-year-old—secured a silver for women’s free-style5-kilometer cross country skiing on the 18th, ending China’s recordof not having won any “Olympic” medal for this category.

Gao Zhidan, Assistant to Minister of theGeneral Administration of Sport of China, started by acknowledging the hardwork by the athletes: “The Administration has made a series of plans fordeveloping ice and snow sports since Beijing and Zhangjiakou’s successful jointbid to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. All athletes are deeply inspired.Moreover, through opening-up efforts and studies over the past few years, wehave had reasonable improvements in our winter sports.”

“From the 13th NationalWinter Games to this year’s Winter Youth Olympic Games, we have seen the hopefor our country to develop ice and snow sports.” He says, “the young athletesat the Winter Youth Olympic Games have demonstrated their perseverance, theirtechnical prowess and sportsmanship. With some fine-tuning here and there, theywill be sure to make new miracles for ice and snow sports in China at the OlympicWinter Games Beijing 2022.”

But he also reminded all present toremain level headed with their performance at the Winter Youth Olympic Games:“Given the limitations on age and for how many times you are allowed to competein international events, the access to athletes from other countries(territories) at the Winter Youth Olympic Games is relatively limited, makingit harder to give an accurate estimation of your rivals. So it’s difficult tocompare things with the scores alone, which is why we are more focused on ourown performance and consider the event a chance for our young athletes to learnand better themselves.”

He agrees with how Thomas Bach—the IOC President—positionsthe Winter Youth Olympic Games as more of an education opportunity and goes onto say that the young Chinese athletes ought to broaden their horizon in thegames and learn from top rivals of their age, whilst cultivating a healthylifestyle, aspirations and the attitude of always seek excellence throughcompetitive sports, so that they could boost their own education and careerprospects through professional training.

“Well, age-wise, the athletes who stoodout at this year’s Winter Youth Olympic Games could potentially compete atBeijing 2022. But they would need to step up training over the next few yearsand establish higher goals, especially with our snow sports. From an objectivepoint of view, we still lag significantly behind the international level, whichcalls for more hard work,” says Gao Zhidan.


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