BEIJING, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Ye Jinguang, captain of China's men's ice hockey team, told Xinhua on Thursday that his Olympic experience marks the beginning of the journey to the long-term development of ice hockey in China.
Though China was taken down by Canada in a men's ice hockey qualification playoff and failed to cruise into the quarterfinals of the Beijing Winter Olympics here on Tuesday, players of the team have high hopes for the future.
"I've been so fortunate to be in this position and I loved every second of it (Olympics). I definitely want to continue moving forward," said Ye, who has National Hockey League experience before playing for HC Kunlun Red Star of the Kontinental Hockey League.
The Chinese men's team is ranked 32nd in the world, and Ye believes that the youth are the hope of ice hockey's future development in China.
"We need to improve. I think it starts with our youth and our national players," Ye noted.
"We are happy to see that more people in China have begun to love ice hockey after watching our matches at the Beijing 2022," said Ye's teammate Yuan Junjie.
"It's a pleasure knowing that more Chinese people started to engage in ice hockey," echoed Zheng Enlai, alternate captain of Team China.
Zheng's grandmother Zheng Fengrong, who had set the world record in women's high jump in 1957, carried the Olympic flag at the Beijing 2008 opening ceremony. Under the influence of his grandma, the 24-year-old developed passion for sports at an early age.
"My goal is to represent China in more international games and hopefully I will be able to carry forward the progress of ice hockey here," Zheng said.
Looking forward, the three players are full of confidence.
"There's so much we can do with hockey in China. We can start with ice hockey school and creating more awareness of ice hockey going to high schools and elementary schools," said Ye.