Excitement building in Beijing ahead of Winter Olympics

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With less than one month to go before the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, local citizens are eagerly expressing their joy over the sporting extravaganza.

Special edition newspapers written after Beijing's successful bids for the 2008 Summer Games and the 2022 Winter Olympics are well kept by Gong Hubiao, an avid Olympic memorabilia collector. His room is filled with souvenirs marking memorable moments for China at the Olympics.

Gong clearly remembers when Beijing won the Olympic bid on July 13, 2001, when he rode his bicycle to Tian'anmen Square to join in a grand celebration.

Last October, he took a photo in front of the 100-day countdown clock in downtown Beijing's Wangfujing district, holding self-designed bottle gourds painted with the Beijing 2022 emblem and mascots.

"Time flies, but the Olympic spirit remains in our hearts," said 61-year-old Gong.

With the Winter Games approaching, winter sports have gained popularity in local schools.

A 11-year-old works on a ski training machine at The Place in Beijing, China, December 12, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

At Dianchang Road Primary School in western Beijing, students can be seen touring the courtyard on roller skis, or practising biathlon shooting.

At the back of the school is a full-scale curling rink that is operational all year round, even in the summer when the temperature reaches 35 degrees Celsius.

Approximately 300 students get to experience a variety of sports - from ice hockey to cross-country skiing, speed skating and curling - often for the first time.

"I have learned a lot about the Olympics at school. I hope athletes can achieve their dreams at Beijing 2022," said 10-year-old Zhang Jinhao.

At the Dongsi Olympic community in central Beijing, a recent "mini marathon" drew wide participation from local residents.

"Over the past decade, we have organized diversified sports activities to commemorate Beijing 2008 and embrace Beijing 2022," said the community's deputy director Zhang Guozhong.

Sun Yuanyuan, a former professional speed skater, has been engaged in promoting winter sports in communities in western Beijing since the city's successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

"I hope to make my contributions to Beijing 2022 and encourage more people to enjoy the ice and snow," Sun said.

In a public painting competition for Beijing 2022, more than 7,500 paintings stood out from over 40,000 candidates, and will be given to overseas friends as gifts during the Games.

Hao Xiakun, born in Zhangjiakou, works at a Beijing-based airline. "When my hometown becomes a co-host city of Beijing 2022, I want to personally feel the Olympics. Now, I am really delighted to have the opportunity to serve for Beijing 2022."

"The Olympics and Paralympics are just like an old friend that we haven't met for 14 years," Hao added.

"We hoped to deepen our mutual understanding at our first encounter in Beijing 2008. Now, we come together again for a shared future in Beijing 2022."

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