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People's Daily Online>>Sports

They're young, and they're good

By Tang Zhe  (China Daily)

09:12, January 17, 2012

Li Zijun, 15, performs during the China Winter Games last week. Li claimed all three women's singles gold medals and is aiming to contend for a medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. (China Daily/Fang Xinwu)

Some of the country's top skaters missed the National Winter Games, leaving room for rising stars like Liang Wenhao and Li Zijun to grab the spotlight, Tang Zhe reports.

It wasn't a time for champions. It was a time for youth. With the stars of the Vancouver Olympics sitting out, China's 12th National Winter Games - which wrapped up on Friday in Changchun, Jilin province - became a stage for the next generation to showcase itself.

Nineteen-year-old short track speed skater Liang Wenhao distinguished himself with six gold medals and one silver at the tournament.

He set himself up to be a centerpiece of the national team after four-time Winter Olympic champion Wang Meng was kicked off the squad following a drunken brawl with a team manager during a camp in Qingdao in July.

Also absent was Zhou Yang, who won gold medals in the women's 1,500m and 3,000m relay in Vancouver.

"It's hard to predict results in short track matches, and I didn't expect to win six gold and one silver before the tournament, but this is also the charming side of athletics," said Liang, who won the men's 500m at the 2010 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Bulgaria to become China's youngest male world champion.

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