Hosts China bagged a record number of 19 golds, 19 silvers and
23 bronzes at the 6th Winter Asiad that closed yesterday in
Changchun, capital of Jilin Province. The Chinese athletes helped
their country recover its Asian leadership in winter sports after
eight years of competition with two other powerhouses Japan and
South Korea who ended up with 13 golds and nine
"We have made a breakthrough in some snow sports," said Wang
Yitao, secretary-general of the Chinese delegation as China
collected a record of eight golds from snow events at the Games.
Despite this success, he pointed out "It's far from a great power
in snow sports."
In alpine skiing men's slalom, China's best result came from Li
Lei at 14th place whilst events like bobsleigh and ski jumpings are
still virgin ground for China.
Asian countries are competitive in just a few winter events with
many lagging far behind from world standard, said Wei Jizhong,
chairman of Sports Committee of the Olympic Council of Asia
Even in short-track speed skating where China made impressive
progress to tie at 4-4 from their 1-6 debacle against South Korea
in the Turin Olympic Games last year, Yoon Jae-myung,
head coach of South Korean short-track speed skating team, still
turned down the host's efforts, "China only has Wang Meng in terms
of world class."
To allow national athletes to improve, importing foreign coaches
has become a popular choice that has seen significant gains. The
Chinese women enjoyed a superb run to finish with five golds in
winter biathlon and their first gold in cross-country skiing after
German Klaus Siebert and Per-Erik Ronnestrand of Sweden took the
helms of the Chinese teams apiece.
Kong Yingchao, who claimed the women's 10km pursuit title, noted
that the professional theories and training methods brought by
Siebert were of huge help to China.
China's cross-country skiing head coach Ronnestrand also agreed
that the key to better improving China's standard lies in more
participation by the ordinary. "The sport is not very popular in
China. In Sweden, all the people rush to the scene when a
competition kicks off but it is impossible here."
For some spectators at the Winter Asiad, many events are still
unidentified. "I have no idea what the match (biathlon) is about
and I'm just here cheering for the Chinese team," said Xing
Zhaoshan, a farmer living nearby.
In a vicious circle gnawing away at the frail hopes of Chinese
athletes, little fame leads to worse environment. Ice hockey used
to have its national league years ago but now only two cities of
Harbin and Qiqihar maintain the sport.
China not only wants good results from various snow and ice
competitions but also needs to absorb more people to join in, said
Liu Peng, head of the General Administration of Sport, adding that
China did quite differently in Summer Olympics and Winter Games,
and the urgent affair is to popularize mass winter sports.
Commenting on the factor that promoting winter sports is more
expensive than the summer events, He Zhenliang, former vice
president of the International Olympic Committee, radiates
confidence for the future: People will be more enthusiastic about
winter sports with the continuous development of China's
(China.org.cn by Li Xiao, February 5, 2007)