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China begin picking up stars for next Games
By Lei Lei (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-27 05:33

TURIN: With one gold, one silver and three bronze, China's short- track speed skaters contributed most of the medals for the country at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games, which came to a conclusion yesterday.

However, the traditional short-track powerhouse has to wait for more talents to emerge to maintain its strength after the Games, since veterans will retire.

"We have to admit that besides Wang Meng, there are no more talented skaters in the country right now," said Tong Lixin, leader of the Chinese short-track team at the Turin Games. "We still have to find such new competitors to keep China among the top-level countries in the short-track field."

At the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics four years ago, short-track skater Yang Yang broke the gold medal jinx for China in the Games by winning the women's 500m and 1,000m races. She also claimed a silver for China with her team-mates.

But with the gradual retirements of these veterans from international competitions, China is losing its grip on the sport.

"While claiming the gold medals at the Winter Olympics four years ago, our gap with South Korea, the world's leading country of the sport, was small, but now the gap between the two countries has grown bigger and bigger, especially in the aspect of techniques," Tong said.

At the Turin Games, South Koreans dominated the short-track event from the beginning to the end, taking six gold medals out of the total of eight, with the other two going to Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States and Wang from China.

China's Yang, 29, who returned to join the national team after a one- year absence to study abroad, only managed a bronze in the women's 1,000m, which saw South Korean Choi Eun-kyung disqualified in the final for impeding.

China's women's team also had to accept a medal blank in the relay race after being disqualified for impeding.

The situation is even worse on the men's side. Led by veteran Li Jiajun, the four-time Olympic medallist, the men's team achieved only one bronze, by the 30-year-old Li, and finished only fifth in the relay race.

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