As enthusiasm for winter sports among the Chinese grows in the lead-up to Beijing 2022, China's current delegation in this year’s Asian Winter Games are to watch out for. (Photo : Getty Images)
The 8th Asian Winter Games will see 236 Chinese athletes competing in all its events in Sapporo, Japan, come Feb. 19-26. The competition will see around 2,300 athletes coming from 31 countries taking part in a spirited series of snow sports.
Among the best medal bets of China are its short-track speed skaters, who won six medals during the past two Winter Olympics. Han Tianyu bagged silver from the men's 1,500m during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, while Wu Dajing also brought home silver from the competition's men's 500m event.
Coach Li Yan expects her team to compete neck-on-neck against South Korea, which took home two Olympic golds from short-track speed skating events in Sochi, while both Japan and Kazakhstan are also emerging as threats to China's chances, CCTV reported.
Chinese figure skaters will also arrive as among the favorites to win gold in Sapporo, with up-and-coming 19-year-old Jin Boyang widely expected to win his first medal in a major competition. Zhang Hao, a veteran silver medalist at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, will feature alongside 21-year-old Yu Xiaoyu.
Coach Zhao Hongbo said that his neophyte pairings in his paired figure skating team have prepared well for the upcoming games, noting that their practice sessions are also aimed for succeeding in both the 2018 Pyeongchang and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Despite fielding a promising winter sports lineup for Sapporo, China has historically struggled in such competitions. But as enthusiasm for winter sports among the Chinese grows in the lead-up to Beijing 2022, the country's current delegation in this year's Asian Winter Games are to watch out for.
To prepare for the upcoming competition, China has hired foreign coaches and conducted trainings abroad, and has also entered new programs that include sports such as bobsled, ski jumping, and luge, among many others.