Sky's the limit for skate sensation Wu

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Wu Dajing, China's 500m short-track Olympic champion. [Photo/Xinhua]

After a sensational 2018, speed skater Wu Dajing is out to prove he's "no flash in the pan".

The 24-year-old from Heilongjiang province became a national hero overnight, twice breaking the world record on his way to winning 500m short-track gold at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.

His achievement was made all the more thrilling after his disqualification for an infringement in the 1,000m semifinals.

Wu's victory, achieved with wire-to-wire victories in all three races, was China's first gold after 13 days of competition in South Korea, and he admitted he had felt the weight of expectation on his shoulders.

"I was under tremendous pressure because of my failure in the 1,000 meters. I felt so good before (the penalty) that day," the 24-year-old recalled. "The 500 meters was my last chance.

"I could find no way to release the stress. I just told myself, 'if I have to do something, I must be the best,'" Wu said.

His glorious year didn't end there, with Wu going on to refresh his world record by clocking 39.505 seconds at a Word Cup meet in Salt Lake City.

"In terms of my fitness after the Olympics, the record was beyond my expectations," said a beaming Wu. "I competed with all my strength and finished on the podium.

"I want to tell everyone that my career is not a flash in the pan. I have a new chapter to unfold."

Now Wu is eyeing glory in other distances and, after being unanimously elected captain of the national team in September, wants to help China's new generation of skating talent maximize their potential.

"In the past, senior teammates have helped me out a lot. I have to pass the spirit to the new generation in the team," Wu said. "I am still far from being great. Lots of work needs to be done in every single training session."

With an increasing public profile, as evidenced by his five million followers on Weibo, Wu is also keen to do his bit for China's winter sports push ahead of 2022 Beijing Olympics.

"China is implementing concrete measures to encourage 300 million people to participate in winter sports. It's my duty as a skater to help with this. I would like to participate in social activities to popularize ice and snow sports in China," Wu added.

As for the 2022 Games, Wu is already envisioning more gold medals around his neck.

"Everything we are going to do in 2019 is for the 2022 Beijing Olympics-in three years the results will be even greater (than those of 2018). My next dream is to win golds at home," he said.

"I want to make breakthroughs not only in the 500 meters, but also in the 1,000, 1,500, 5,000 relay and 2,000 mixed relay. I expect to challenge my limits over longer distances, in every event I participate in. That's my paramount goal in the new year."

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