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Mixed opinions on Olympic champ's expulsion

Updated: 2011-08-06 19:06


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BEIJING - Since Wang Meng was kicked out of the short track speed skating national team on Thursday, Chinese sports fans have been divided into two camps, with one hailing the "right decision" by the sports authorities and the other blasting at unfair punishment on the country's most decorated winter Olympian.

Mixed opinions on Olympic champ's expulsion

Wang Meng celebrates her gold medal during the flower ceremony for the women's 500 metres short track speed skating event during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in this February 17, 2010 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

The four-time Olympic gold medalist was expelled from the national team for a fist-flying brawl with world champion-turned team manager Wang Chunlu. The manager said Wang Meng violated the team disciplines and punched her first when the "talk" went awry, while Wang Meng admitted her failure to return to the team before a curfew but said the manager threw the first punch.

"Wang Meng is seen as a role model of the Chinese youth and her fight with the team manager was wrong," said Lu Qin, a math teacher who skated in the rink of a Beijing downtown shopping mall.

"She deserved the punishment and the Chinese winter sports governing body made the right decision," added Lu.

When asked about the possibility that the team manager might hit the athlete first, the 54-year-old Lu said: "The team manager is not only an official but also a teacher. A student should never hit his or her teacher in any circumstances."

A younger skating fan disagreed with Lu.

"The punishment was wrong and disgusting," Cui Jing, a keen lover of skating and skiing, told the Xinhua reporter. "Why did Wang Chunlu walk away unpunished? As I know, she is an incompetent manager who usually made things worse."

"There isn't a bit of fairness in the winter sports authorities' decision. The fair decision could be like this: Wang Meng is out of the team and Wang Chunlu steps down as the team manager."

Wang Meng, who won four golds, one silver and one bronze in the two Olympics, had been suspended since the incident during a summer training camp in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao on July 24.

Wang Meng accidentally cut her hands on a shattered television screen and needed dozens of stitches after the incident.

Wang's good friend, men's skater Liu Xianwei, was also expelled from the national team as the Chinese Winter Sports Administrative Center said, he was also involved in the brawl and damaged hotel property.

Olympic champion Zhou Yang had threatened to quit the national team to side with Wang Meng but she was persuaded by officials to remain with the squad, according to a teammate of Zhou's who asked not to be named.

Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening News doubted the fairness of the Chinese winter sports body, saying sacking Wang Meng and keeping Wang Chunlu will hurt the organization's credibility.

"The handling of Qingdao incident left us such an impression: the athletes are a vulnerable and unprotected group, while the team officials stay high up," commented the popular evening newspaper.

Li Yan, head coach of the short track speed skating team, told state television CCTV that expelling Wang didn't solve deeper problems within the team.

"One year after winning four gold medals in the Olympics, the Chinese national team has turned into a negative example. It definitely needs deep reflection," she said.

Li told Xinhua that Wang Chunlu, as the only official in the short track speed skating team, used "inappropriate ways of management".

"Wang Meng has a hot temper," said Li, "that made her a great fighter in the rink, but also made her easily lose control off the rink."

"Wang Chunlu is a manager who can make a hot-tempered Wang Meng even hotter," added Li.

Wang told Xinhua on Saturday that she had done nothing wrong and "is true to herself".

"I manage the team according to the instructions from the State General Administration of Sport and the Winter Sports Administrative Center," said Wang. "I manage the team with a view to the development and the future of the team. I am a responsible manager."


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