BEIJING, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- China announced the largest-ever contingent of 176 athletes to compete at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Here are the star athletes fans could keep a close eye on.
FIGURE SKATING - SUI WENJING/HAN CONG
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who missed the PyeongChang 2018 gold medal by a margin of 0.43 points, bring their program to "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to the Beijing Games, the music with which they won the world championship with during the 2016-17 season.
Sui received major surgery on the fractured right foot after PyeongChang 2018, and Han underwent surgery on the hip in 2020. They said their mutual support has become a "bridge" between them.
"It is not only a bridge between us, but the one connecting us with the audience, referees, and also other teammates," Sui said.
During the 2021-22 season, Sui/Han won the Grand Prix of Figure Skating series in Canada and Italy, and they are now preparing for the upcoming Winter Olympics in full swing.
According to the latest world rank, Sui/Han and another Chinese figure skating pair Peng Cheng and Jin Yang are in third and fifth place respectively, while three Russian pairs take the other three positions in the top five.
SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING - REN ZIWEI & WU DAJING
Chinese athletes have won 13 gold medals in the Winter Olympics, 10 of which came from short-track speed skating. Since Yang Yang won China's first Winter Olympic gold in the Salt Lake City in 2002, Chinese short track speed skaters have bagged gold in each of the following Games.
Despite twice changing head coaches after 2018, the Chinese skating team is still competitive in the current season. In the 2021-22 ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series, Ren Ziwei won the men's 1,500m gold medal twice, while Wu Dajing finished first in men's 500m at the last stop.
The first gold medal of Beijing 2022 short speed skating will be settled on February 5 in the mixed 2,000m relays, an event that China won two golds, one silver and one bronze in the World Cup this season.
SPEED SKATING - NING ZHONGYAN & GAO TINGYU
Ning Zhongyan was selected to China's national speed skating team in 2018, and he won a silver in the ISU speed skating World Cup series just one year later in Belarus.
Ning continues his momentum in the 2021-22 season with two gold and two silver in the World Cup and will herald the Chinese team at the Beijing 2022.
Gao Tingyu, who won China's first Olympic medal in men's speed skating at PyeongChang 2018, also achieved one gold and one silver in men's 500m this season. They are expected to lead China's speed skating team to attain new heights.
FREESTYLE SKIING - GU AILING & XU MENGTAO
Gu Ailing, a rising Chinese star athlete on snow, kept winning gold medals this season in freeski halfpipe, slopestyle and big air. She has become a medal hopeful for China in snow events at Beijing 2022.
In freestyle aerial skiing, a strength of China's snow sports, Chinese skiers won two mixed gold medals in the World Cup this season, showing great competitiveness. Xu Mengtao is to start her fourth Olympic journey, and her teammate Kong Fanyu also gets ready to chase her Olympic dream.
SNOWBOARD - SU YIMING, LIU JIAYU & CAI XUETONG
After winning a history-making title at the FIS Big Air World Cup in Steamboat, United States, Su Yiming becomes China's snowboarding hope. Just a few days earlier, the Guinness World Records accredited Su as the first person to complete a backslide 1980 Indy Crail in snowboarding, and he may obtain new achievements at Beijing 2022.
The upcoming Games is the fourth Winter Olympics for both female snowboarders Liu Jiayu and Cai Xuetong, ranked second and fifth at PyeongChang 2018, and now they are pursuing their own new records. ■