Feature: Chinese snowboarder Gong Naiying's countdown

(Xinhua) 15:46, February 09, 2022

CHONGLI, Zhangjiakou, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Carrying her snowboard, Gong Naiying stopped in a corner before passing through the mixed zone, looking at the big screen while her opponents were sliding down the hillside.

The qualification for women's parallel giant slalom at Beijing Winter Olympics consists of two runs and the participants will slide through the red and blue pistes respectively. The effective results of two runs will be added to generate the top 16 to enter the final.

Finishing the competition in 43.69 seconds in the first run, Gong ended her second run with 45.62 seconds. Italian Nadya Ochner ranked No.16 by edging Gong 0.47 seconds.

Gong finally pocketed the 19th ranking in the table. Four years ago, when Chinese athletes first appeared in the discipline, Gong ranked 26th while her teammate Zang Ruxin 22nd. Gong's result at Beijing 2022 set a new record for team China, but still not enough to help her enter the final.

On October 21, 2020, when Gong started to record her feelings gearing up for the Olympics, she did not expect the result.

"There are less than five hundred days to go before the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and I would like to record my life, training and competitions on my Weibo (a Chinese Twitter-like social media)," she wrote.

As she promised, her memory before the Olympics was left on the Internet in her own words.

"N+1 days of training. How happy it is to be able to stick to the sports I love."

"My discipline on TV. Although it was about a foreign athlete, I was tearful with excitement."

"With more physical strength, I can be more competitive."

"When we make a breakthrough, we will be our own king."

In each Weibo post, Gong wrote down the number of days left before the Olympics. She often shared videos of her strength exercises with the gym and track field as the backgrounds that appeared the most.

From the 171 days' countdown, she rarely posted pictures or videos, just a simple sentence instead. At that time, the Chinese national team was busy participating in the points competitions worldwide where Gong earned her qualification for the Beijing Winter Olympics.

On January 31, 2022, Gong stopped her countdown, four days before the opening ceremony and eight days before the women's parallel giant slalom qualification.

"I am very excited to compete at the Winter Olympics in my motherland. When that day really came, I was still a little nervous, but I feel great as long as I can stand on the course," said Gong in the mixed zone with a smile but could not hide her disappointment.

The end of a countdown also represents the beginning of a new one which points to Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo four years later. Gong has already reached the best ranking of the Chinese team by three places, and three more places higher, she will be able to appear in the final. At the age of 23, she still has time, let alone her motivation and efforts. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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