Olympic bid makes skating coach's job easier
Updated: 2015-06-08 20:32
By Sun Xiaochen(chinadaily.com.cn)
Li Yan, left, head coach of China's national short-track speed skating team, visits a winter sports-themed poetry, painting and calligraphy exhibition with her athletes at Beijing Sport University. Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn.
The mentor of China's Olympic champion speed skaters expects Beijing's bid for 2022 Winter Olympics to make her job easier by encouraging more children to don ice skates.
Having claimed nine Olympic gold medals since 2002 as the leading force in China's winter sports contingent, the national short-track speed skating team still faces challenges in attracting new talent because of the relatively low profile of the sport.
Beijing's bid will help popularize the niche sport in a wider area of China and inspire some youngsters from the warmer Southern part of the country to become professionals, said Li Yan, head coach of the national team.
"I think greater participation in skating at grassroots level (inspired by the bid) will trickle through to national level so that one day we will have a bigger talent pool to select from," Li said at an exhibition of winter sports-themed poetry, painting and calligraphy at Beijing Sport University on Monday.
All members of the national short-track team, who have just reported for a new training program, visited the exhibition to gain inspiration from the past.
Once mainly made up of athletes from Northeastern China's Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces, the new squad has drafted in three skaters from the Eastern coastal city of Qingdao in much warmer Shandong province.
"It's a sign of the sport's increasing versatility," said Li who led the women's team to sweep all four short-track golds at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
"Even in the South, indoor rinks are more commonly seen at shopping malls, and more children have adopted skating as an affordable hobby which will definitely contribute to talent drafting in future," she added.
Renewing her contract until the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Li said the main focus in the remainder of her tenure is to help more young athletes reach international level forehead of the highly-anticipated 2022 Games.
"Although I don't know if I will still be in the position by then, I will do my best to train as many promising athletes as possible.
"If Beijing wins the bid, that will be a dream come true for all winter sports participants in China and I will play my part to the utmost as well," she said.
Beijing's joint bid with co-host city Zhangjiakou has entered the final stage as a high-level delegation of senior bid officials will brief International Olympic Committee officials in Lausanne on Tuesday about concerns cited in the bid assessment report released by an IOC evaluation commission last week.
The host city will be selected between Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan at the 128th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur following final presentations by the candidates to the full IOC membership on July 31.