Chinese figure skaters set minds on Olympic medals

16:20, February 09, 2010      

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China's figure skating pairs have eyed on the medals on offer as the Winter Olympic Games is closing here in Vancouver, with only three more days to go before the official opening.

The Chinese contingent of Shen Xue/Zhao Hongbo, Pang Qing/Tong Jian and Zhang Dan/Zhang Hao took their first training session Monday afternoon at the Trout Lake Center after arriving Sunday morning in the port city in Southwestern Canada for the Feb. 12-28 Games.

Each of them put an upbeat smile on face.

"We've been here for many times and been familiar to the Canadians," said Zhao Hongbo, while Shen Xue added: "To compete in Winter Games in Vancouver is quite like playing at home for us, since there's so many Chinese immigrants."

"Both of us are just happy to come here for our fourth outing to the Olympics. We are relaxed," said the 37-year-old Zhao, who, with his wife partner Shen, came out of retirement last May, eyeing for the elusive Olympic title.

Four years ago in Turin, the couple won their second straight bronze after Zhao broke his Achilles tendon less than six months before the Games.

"To lift the Olympic trophy is the ultimate dream of our career. We just came back for it," Zhao told Xinhua earlier in January.

Before their retirement in 2007, the pair have taken three world championships and six titles of ISU Grand Prix finals, but were eluded by the Olympic gold medals three times.

"Now we're feeling good both physically and technically and hope we can give more and perform well after the Olympics kicks off," Shen said of their last shoot at Olympics on Monday.

Their teammates Pang Qing and Tong Jian also made clear of their goal, saying they've vowed to win a medal.

"We're trying to win a medal here, no matter what color it is, since all the opponents are so strong," said Tong, who finished his second Winter Olympics in Turin 2006 on the fourth with his partner Pang.

Also having legitimate contenders in Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao, China, which came second, third and fourth in the Turin Olympics, is reckoned the hot favorites to vie for the pairs medals against both Russia and Germany.

"We are the least under-pressure pair here," said Zhang Hao. "We don't want to talk a lot, other than doing our best during the Games and skating well our short program and free skate."

In 2006, Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao came out as the surprising silver medalists after the then 20-year-old girl suffered a heavy fall on their opening jump in the free skating.

Jet lag posed as the most difficulty for the Chinese, who were however all confident of solving it in one or two days, and all the three pairs were satisfied with the arrangement offered by the organizers, as Tong Jian put the Olympic Village in Vancouver the best he's ever been.

Later on Monday evening, the Chinese figure skaters made their another training session at the Pacific Coliseum where the Olympic competitions will take place.

Source: Xinhua
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