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Chinese female skaters shine at ISU World Cup Short Track
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Reigning Olympic champion Wang Meng and promising star Zhou Yang snatched two golds for China at ISU World Cup short-track in Beijing on Saturday.

Wang, the 500 meters winner in the 2006 Turin Olympics, dominated the women's 500m final by taking the lead from the very start of the race and pocketing the gold in 43.430 seconds.

China's Wang Meng celebrates after the women's 500m final in ISU World Cup short track in Beijing, China, Sept. 19, 2009.  [Xinhua/Han Yan]

"Our Chinese team finished with one short-track gold in the Turin Games. In the coming Vancouver Games, I hope we can have a better performance, or our hard training during these years will be meaningless,"said Wang, the anchorwoman of the Chinese team.

The 24-year-old Wang enjoyed a heavy harvest last season. She wrapped up a fruitful season with 10 World Cup titles, four gold medals from the Vienna World Championships as well as a title in the world team championships in the Netherlands.

Jessica Gregg of Canada finished second in women's 500m and the other two finalists both fell down in the first lap. The bronze went to Canadian skater Marianne St-Gelais, who finished the race in 52.085, while Zhao Nannan of China finished at the bottom.

"The two Canadian sprinters both did well in today's race. And they will be among our tough rivals in next year's Olympics," said Wang, who hinted that the Chinese team had pinned the gold hope on the relay events.

Dubbed as China's promising star, the 18-year-old Zhou Yang finished first in the women's 1500m. Zhou remained second during the beginning part of the race but sped up strongly in the final laps.

Zhou Yang (front) competes during the women's 1500m final in ISU World Cup short track in Beijing, China, Sept. 19, 2009.  [Xinhua/Han Yan]

After seizing the leading position, Zhou, who set a world record in the 1,500m in two minutes 16.729 seconds in Salt Lake City early this year, never left any chance to the opponents and hit the finishing line in two minutes 28.600 seconds.

"Today's race was not an easy one. It was the first stop of this season and I am satisfied with my current form," said Zhou, who ranked 1st in last season's 1500m World Cup competitions.

Lee Eun-Byul of South Korea clocked 2:29.014 to wrap up the silver while Katherine Reutter of the United States finished third in 2:29.095.

On the men's part, the lion's share went to the South Korean team. Defending titlist Sung Si-Bak led his two countrymen to enjoy a podium sweep in the men's 1500m event. Kwak Yoon-Gy, also hailing from South Korea, edged Sung to claim the title in the 500m race. Sung earned the silver and Jeff Simon from USA took the bronze.

The 2009/2010 ISU World Cup Short-Track includes four stops, namely Beijing, Seoul, Montreal and Marquette in the United States. The World Cup competitions in Montreal and Marquette to be held in November have been designated as the 2010 Winter Olympic Games qualifying competitions.

(Xinhua News Agency September 20, 2009)

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