China keeps low key ahead of Winter Asiad

15:27, January 13, 2011      

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China won't focus on medals at the upcoming 7th Asian Winter Games as some renowned athletes retired or miss the games for personal reasons.

The Winter Sports Administration Center director Ren Hongguo said Wednesday that the Winter Asiad will play an important role in fostering a team for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

"The whole team is still in adjustment after Vancouver Winter Olympics. Besides, Shen Xue/Zhao Hongbo and Wang Meng all miss the games, which will surely reduce our gold medal chances (at the Asiad)," said Ren.

"So our main goal is to test the youngsters in view of the Sochi Games," he added after announcing a 180-member delegation is fielded for the Asiad.

Olympic and three-time world champions Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo formally waved goodbye to the national figure skating career with a spectacular wedding on ice late last year.

Another world champion pair Pang Qing/Tong Jian will shoulder the responsibility to continue China's establishiment on the international ice rink.

The short track speed skating team will miss Olympic champion Wang Meng's leadership as the 25-year-old is in the United States learning English.

Liu Xianying and Kong Yingchao both retired after they anchored in China's sweep of all four gold medals in women's biathlon in last winter Asiad in Jilin province, China, four years ago.

Ren rated hosts Kazakhstan as the favorites to top the medals tally as the central Asian country is expected to bag over 20 titles in cross-country skiing.

"Chinese athletes will do their best although Kazakhstan are the favorites," said Ren.

China sat on top of the tally four years ago with 19 gold, 19 silver and 23 bronze medals, followed by Japan on 13-9-14, and South Korea 9-13-11. Kazakhstan came fourth on 6-6-6.

The Chinese team, including more than 90 athletes, will arrive in Kazakhstan around Jan. 24.

The 7th Asian Winter Games will run from Jan. 30 to Feb. 5 in Almaty and Astana. Eight countries and regions are going to take part in the games with 69 gold medals up for grabs.

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