China target Winter Asiad for pre-Olympic training

12:51, January 22, 2011      

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China will use the upcoming 7th Asian Winter Games as a platform for young aspiring athletes to international exposure and experience as it unveiled on Friday a youth-oriented delegation for the Asiad.

Short track speed skating Olympic champion Zhou Yang and figure skating world champion Pang Qing/Tong Jian will lead the 221-member delegation, among which 134 athletes are included. The average age of athletes is 22.4.

A total of 90 athletes will make their debut at the upcoming Winter Asiad, while 88 athletes didn't participate in last year's Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Deputy head of Chinese delegation Xiao Tian said that the Winter Asiad will be crucial in fostering a team for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

"As Chinese team is still in adjustment after the Vancouver Winter Olympics and some competitive athletes retire or miss the Winter Asiad for some reasons, China will focus on training young athletes rather than winning gold medal," said Xiao, who is also the Deputy Director of the State General Administration of Sports.

Olympic and three-time world champions Shen Xue/Zhao Hongbo retired from figure skating after winning the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, while skater Wang Meng, who collected three gold medals at Vancouver, is in the United States learning English.

Besides, Chinese women biathlon athlete Liu Xiangying and Kong Yingchao both retired after sweeping all four gold medals in last Winter Asiad in Jilin Province, China.

China, who sat on top of the tally four years ago with 19 gold, 19 silver and 23 bronze medals, will compete in 60 events of four sports. However, the sports powerhouse keep a low profile this time.

Xiao pointed out that China will meet severe challenge from home country Kazakhstan as this time the competition events change a lot comparing with last time in Jilin, while China's traditional strength snowboarding and curling are not included.

"Chinese young athletes will do their best and get used to the large scale competition as quickly as possible," added Xiao.

The Chinese team will arrive in Kazakhstan around Jan. 24.

The 7th Asian Winter Games will run from Jan. 30 to Feb. 5 in Almaty and Astana, with 69 gold medals up for grabs.

Source: Xinhua
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