Chinese hockey star thrilled to speak out for Beijing
Updated: 2015-07-29 18:31
By Sun Xiaochen/Zhan Qianhui(chinadaily.com.cn)
Song Andong, left, attends a news conference with Yao Ming in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 29, 2015. [Photo by Sun Xiaochen/China Daily]
Song Andong, the first Chinese-born player to be drafted by the National Hockey League, is excited to have been honored with a new title - ambassador of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
"It's a dream for any athlete to compete at the Olympics and a special honor to be able to do so in your home country and in the city where you grew up, so I was excited because I feel I will have the opportunity," said the 18-year-old rising star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the International Olympic Committee will elect the winner of the 2022 Winter Olympics bid on Friday.
Being interviewed together with China's retired basketball superstar Yao Ming, who is also an ambassador, Song didn't hide his admiration for the icon.
"Yao Ming has always been a role model for me. What he's done with his own career and for basketball in China, I try to reach for. He really motivated me and basketball started (to grow) in China and I try to do the same thing for (ice) hockey".
His icon Yao said he had just had his daughter start practicing skating and tried a little himself.
As a professional player recognized by high-ranking clubs in the US, Song has faith that Chinese ice hockey will be much more competitive by 2022.
"Seven years is a long time away... if we can improve some of the basic infrastructures within Chinese ice hockey and put our minds toward it... we can compete against the powerhouses in the world." he said.
For those who think the NHL or other professional leagues are far away from China, Song believes staging the Winter Olympics would encourage more people to further their hockey dreams. "By having the Winter Olympics at home, it can show that it's not far from them and if they work hard it's not impossible".
Having started playing hockey at the age of 6 and with 5 years' training in Canada, Song was drafted by the New York Islanders in June.
"Sport is not just a game, it's more of education. Sport teaches us by personal experience about how you compete and how you get in teamwork, leadership and equality. What kind of attitude you put on when you have down time or frustration. That's the value of sport, and the legacy we could have by biding and hosting the 2022 Olympics," said Yao.
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