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Yang Yang (A) Ineligible to Defend 500m Title
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China's first Winter Olympic champion Yang Yang (A) will miss the chance to defend her 500m title in the short track speed skating competitions starting on Sunday, according to a Chinese sports official.

"Wang Meng and Fu Tianyu will compete for China in the women's 500m competition tomorrow," an anonymous official told Xinhua on Saturday. "We made the decision carefully, taking various factors into consideration."

That means Yang Yang (A), who became the first Chinese to win a gold at the Winter Olympics after taking the 500m title in Salt Lake City in 2002, will watch from stands during Sunday's competition.

China have only secured two quotas for the event at last year's Olympic qualifying tournament after Yang made a mistake to cost them a potential third one.

Wang Meng, who had swept 500m golds in four World Cup events this season, was currently the world No. 1 skater in the event and Fu ranked third. Yang, who finished with two golds and a silver at the Salt Lake City Games four years ago, failed to enter top 10.

"Wang Meng is of course our first choice for the event," Xin Qingshan, head coach of the Chinese short track speed skating team, told Xinhua on Friday. "Concerning Yang Yang (A) and Fu Tianyu, the former is a very experienced skater while the latter has great starting skills and performed very well in the event this season."

Yang Yang (A), who beared the flag for the Chinese delegation at the opening ceremony on Friday, will likely to compete in the women's 1,000m and 1,500m, where China have both collected an utmost three tickets, as well as the relay event.

(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2006)

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