Xi's visit inspires Chinese athletes

2021-01-22 12:03:05

Technicians in Beijing prepare the playing surface at the Wukesong Ice Sports Center, the ice hockey training venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics, on Wednesday. WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY President shows ardent interest in training progress Inspired by President Xi Jinping's warm greetings and instructions, Chinese athletes, sports officials and event organizers have pledged to deliver their best performances on both the athletic and operational fronts at the 2022 Winter Olympics. With about one year left before the 2022 Winter Olympics open next February, China's winter sports teams have had their athletic preparation for the home showcase boosted by the president's earnest expectation after Xi visited athletes, coaches and organizational staff at multiple venues in the Games' three zones-downtown Beijing, the city's suburban Yanqing district and co-host Zhangjiakou, Hebei province-this week. At the refurbished Capital Gymnasium, Xi's ardent interest in their training progress and everyday lives after watching their performances during a visit on Monday lifted the spirit of China's figure skating team-one of the country's most decorated winter sports programs. "It's really an honor and a great inspiration to perform under the president's watch," pair skater Jin Yang said on Wednesday during a symposium organized by the National Winter Sports Administrative Center to study Xi's guidance. "His caring words reminding us to get enough rest after hard training and to be careful not to get injured were really touching, filling us with energy and confidence to keep pushing for better results." It was Jin's second time skating with his partner Peng Cheng in front of Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. The president had visited them in 2017 at the same venue, which hosts the training base of the team. Xi's two-day venue tour, which included visits to Yanqing's Alpine Ski Center, the National Sliding Center and Zhangjiakou's National Ski Jumping Center, was his fourth inspection trip to Beijing 2022 facilities and training bases since the Chinese capital won in 2015 the right to become the world's first city to host both Olympics after having staged the 2008 Summer Games. Expanding prowess At the sliding center, where a 1.9-kilometer track for bobsled, luge and skeleton winds down mountain ridges, Chinese racers preparing for the home Games said they were motivated to push for faster runs in 2022 by Xi's presence and encouragement during a training session. "Although we started pretty late in this event, we have advantages such as a world-class track at home and the central government's full support to help us catch up with the world's best and dare to surpass them in 2022," said Shao Yijun, captain of China's four-man bobsled team, which was formed in 2015 with talent drafted from track and field. As a rookie in most snow-based events, China's winter sports governing body has set goals for the country to expand its prowess from skating to more snow disciplines, such as freestyle skiing, snowboarding, bobsled and skeleton. The country has hired a group of renowned foreign coaches, including Norway's eight-time Olympic champion Ole Einar Bjorndalen in biathlon and South Korea-born short-track speedskating legend Viktor Ahn, to qualify its athletes in all 109 Beijing 2022 events in an attempt to eclipse the country's best gold medal haul (five in 2010) at previous Winter Games. "President Xi's instruction serves as a strong morale booster. Yet we still need to stay humble, calm and dedicated on our mission and try to forge ahead, targeting the world's best in each event," Ni Huizhong, director of the National Winter Sports Administrative Center, said during a symposium attended by 270 athletes and coaches on site. After his venue inspection, Xi also urged Beijing 2022 organizers to conduct preparatory work with greater perfection and to readjust venue operational plans if necessary to adapt to COVID-19 pandemic circumstances. Epidemic planning Liu Yumin, director of the planning, construction and sustainable development department of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, said the president's detailed instructions had helped shed light on additional planning for epidemic countermeasures for the Games. "We will focus on improving our venue operation plans and make necessary facility adjustments in accordance with the epidemic prevention protocols as our next step after having completed all 12 competition venues for the Games," Liu said on Wednesday. With all competition venues ready by the end of last year, the organizing committee is moving on to finalize and test Games-time operational plans in areas such as athlete service, transportation, accommodation and epidemic control to host the Winter Olympics with a simplified, safe and excellent approach as the president instructed, Liu said.