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China looks to duplicate Asian Summer Games success on ice, snow

China looks to duplicate Asian Summer Games success on ice, snow

China will be looking to do on ice and snow what it did to its neighbors on the track and court when the winter version of the Asian Games starts Sunday.
But after dominating the Asian Summer Games several months ago, China is expected to face a little tougher opposition from defending champion Japan, South Korea and possibly Kazakhstan in the Jan. 28-Feb. 4 competition.
"I hope we can win, but I am not sure. We are strong in skating but weak in skiing," said Wei Jizhong, a Chinese official who is chairman of the Sports Committee of the Olympic Council of Asia. "The central government has put a lot of human resource support and financial support into this."
More than 800 competitors from 26 countries and regions across Asia, including some where winter sports are not normally played, are in Changchun, a northeastern Chinese city of about 7 million which has spent 490 million yuan (US$63 million; euro49 million) building facilities.
Japan won 24 gold medals at the last Asian Winter Games which it hosted in the city of Amori, but is aiming for 10-15 this time.
Japan has sent 113 athletes and 49 officials, while China has a 234-member delegation, including 160 athletes, the most of any country.
Forty-seven gold medals are up for grabs in such traditional winter sports as skiing, figure skating and speedskating.
There is also men's ice hockey, and the competition, which started before the opening ceremony, featured games between six countries and regions where the sport is not usually played. The United Arab Emirates beat Thailand 4-0, Kuwait demolished Macao 15-2, and Malaysia downed Hong Kong 7-3.
China, whose athletes have been accused of doping in the past, has also vowed tough anti-doping controls with more than 140 staff dedicated to sniffing out drugs. "The doping control has already started," An Li, a secretary-general of the organizing committee, told a news conference.
China will be banking on such stars as freestyle skier Han Xiaopeng, who surprised at Turin in 2006 to win China's first-ever Olympic skiing medal, and Wang Meng, the women's gold medalist at Turin in the 500-meter short track skating event.
Veteran figure skating duo Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, the Olympic bronze medal winners, are also on the team.
Olympic silver medalist figures pair Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao won't be at the games because of a scheduling clash with the World University Winter Games.
Japan will be led by women figure skaters Yukari Nakano and Fumie Suguri, and speed skaters Joji Kato and Tomomi Okazaki.
South Korea, with its 152-strong delegation, should do well in short track speedskating, especially with Ann Hyun Soo and Jin Sun Yu competing. Both won three golds in Turin.
Wei, the Chinese official, also said Kazakhstan, which has a strong ice hockey team, will do well in the Games. "Pay attention to Kazakhstan," he said.
China won overwhelmingly at the summer Asian Games last year in Doha, Qatar, taking home 165 golds and 316 medals overall.
Second-place South Korea had 58 golds and 193 overall, followed by Japan in third with 50 golds and 198 medals overall.


Updated : 2021-01-25 23:15 GMT+08:00