Winter sports trailblazers set up country for success
China Daily

Four-time Olympic champion Wang Meng takes part in the Beijing 2022 torch relay at the Beijing Winter Olympic Park on Feb 2. (Photo: CHINA DAILY)

Wang Meng, a four-time Olympic short track speed skating gold medalist, has appeared as a commentator for the sport's events since Feb 5 to help make winter sports more popular across the country.

Her comment "my eyes are like rulers," made during China's vital moment in the final of the 2,000-meter mixed team relay, became a viral catchphrase on the internet, with users hailing her as the "guardian angel" for Team China.

Though retired, Wang has never been far from her sport in China. In 2019 and 2020, she was appointed the head coach for China's national team. During and after her tenure, Wang spared no efforts in promoting international exchanges of sporting talents and recruiting experienced coaches and athletes from all over the world for Team China.

Thanks to her persistent referral and recommendation, South Korean coach Kim Sundae, former Russian short-track speed skater Viktor An and South Korea-born naturalized citizen Lin Xiaojun are all currently working for or representing China.

Wang also devoted herself to bringing winter sports closer to the Chinese people. She designed TV shows in which celebrities from different fields were invited to try to skate for the first time.

As penalties issued in the first competition days have sparked heated debate online, Wang explained clearly and succinctly the situation to international audiences by quoting from the latest version of the International Skating Union rules, thus allaying misgivings of skeptics and showing the Beijing Olympic Games are a place for fair competition.

In an interview with China Daily, Wang expressed her hopes for the future. "In the past, we thought winter sports belonged mainly to European countries. But as China grows stronger and keeps attracting more people to ice and snow, we are now producing more and more high-caliber talents in all these areas."

Wang is a model for countless Chinese retired athletes, who will continue as ever to pass the torch on to their successors. The Beijing Winter Olympic Games are sure to stand as testimony to a new paradigm in Chinese sports, thanks to the hard work through generation after generation.

Wu Yimeng is a student at the College of Foreign Languages and Literatures of Fudan University. Guan Yuhua from Fudan University contributed to the article.