Liu brothers move closer to potential China switch

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Hungary's Shaolin Sandor Liu (front) practises during a training session at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China, Jan, 28, 2022. (Xinhua/Ju Huanzong)

Hungary's short-track speed skating stars Sandor Liu Shaolin and Liu Shaoang could be representing China in the future after the Olympic champions lodged applications to change their nationality.

The Hungarian National Skating Association (MOKSZ) on Tuesday posted a statement on its website confirming that the Liu brothers had officially filed the applications.

Born in Budapest to a Chinese father and a Hungarian mother, the Liu brothers are expected to skate under the Chinese flag should their applications be approved. Their longtime mentor in the Hungary team, Zhang Jing, returned to serve as head coach of the Chinese national squad in August and the duo are keen to maintain that highly successful relationship.

Under the guidance of Zhang, known as Lina in Hungary, the Liu brothers led the Hungarian men's team to its first short-track Olympic gold medal when they triumphed in the 5,000m relay final at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea. Liu Shaoang, the younger of the brothers, continued his golden momentum by winning the men's 500m title at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.

"After the Beijing Olympics, the brothers indicated that they would definitely like to continue to prepare under the guidance of Zhang Jing (Lina), the head coach of the national team. Unfortunately, Lina, at her request, had to terminate her indefinite contract, given that she had received an offer that was hard to turn down from the federation of her home country, China, for the position of head coach of the Chinese speed skating team," read a translated statement from the Hungarian association.

Right after Zhang moved back to China this summer, the Liu brothers were spotted training at the Chinese national team's base in Beijing.

"MOKSZ has recently provided the conditions for the Liu brothers to train with the Chinese national team and Lina in Beijing. This solution proved to be inappropriate for the brothers," the statement added.

Zhang, who skated for China at the 1994 Winter Olympics, is currently overseas working with Team China as it competes in the International Skating Union's World Cup series.

Both Zhang and the Chinese skating association have yet to respond to the news about the Liu brothers.

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