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China seeks Winter Games 'breakthroughs'

China will strive for "historic breakthroughs" at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and beyond but will struggle to match its Summer Games dominance, the country's top winter sports official said yesterday.
Reflecting its desire to raise its still-nascent winter sports profile, China is sending its largest delegation ever to the February 12-28 Vancouver Games with 91 athletes, said Zhao Yinggang, head of Chinese winter sports.
But he declined to speculate on China's potential medal count in Canada or offer his expectations for the country's possible future greatness on the ski slopes and ice rinks.
"In sports where we hold future promise, we must overcome difficulties, turn the impossible into the possible and realise historic breakthroughs," Zhao told a news conference.
But he added: "There are still many (winter) events where we are not competitive," noting that China remained behind rich Western countries where cold-weather sports have much longer histories and are far more entrenched.
"Our winter sports development has grown and standards have risen but there remain many events in which we have not reached world standards."
China dominated the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing with 51 gold medals, compared with 36 for the second-place United States, but has not fared nearly as well in winter contests.
At the last Winter Games in Turin, China managed just two gold medals, four silver and five bronze.
It is widely believed China is eyeing vast future improvement, partly out of what Zhao called "achieving glory for the motherland."
But he said China's objectives in Vancouver were merely to "realise improvement and development... and better performances."
China is seen having a good chance to do so, with top-ranked competitors in short-track speed skating, figure skating and aerial skiing.
Wang Meng is a favorite in the women's short-track events after winning gold in the 500m in Turin. She won both the 500m and 1,000m and led China to victory in the relay at the World Championships in Vienna last year.


Updated : 2021-01-28 14:39 GMT+08:00