BEIJING Jan 28 China will send its largest
ever Winter Olympic delegation to Vancouver for next month's
Games although they have modest expectations compared to their
all-conquering Summer counterparts.
Both gold medallists from Turin four years ago, women's
short track speed skater Wang Meng and men's freestyle skier
Han Xiaopeng, have recovered from injuries to take their places
among the 91 Chinese competitors for the Feb. 12-28 Games.
China topped the medals table with 51 golds at the 2008
Beijing Summer Games, but the country is much weaker in winter
sports and officials have targeted just matching their haul of
two golds, four silvers and five bronzes from Turin.
"We started taking part in winter sports much later and we
face great obstacles ... generally speaking we are below the
level of the summer sports," Zhao Yinggang, secretary general
of the delegation, told a news conference on Thursday.
"We are working hard on narrowing the gap between China's
winter and summer sports."
"We should win no fewer medal than last Games, and try to
improve from last time," added Zhao, who will be one of 91
officials and coaches accompanying the athletes.
Han will lead a strong Chinese challenge in both men's and
women's freestyle skiing aerials, while Wang, three strong
figure skating pairs teams, women's snowboarders and the
women's curling team are all strong medal hopes.
"We hope our performance at the Winter Olympics will
attract the attention and support of the Chinese people and
increase participation in winter sports," said Zhao.
Zhao said the state system was a key to developing winter
sports, as it had done so succesfully for Summer Olympic
"Thanks to the state system, China's competitive sports
have enjoyed great development, particularly at the Beijing
Olympic Games," he said.
"Winter sports, which are part of China's Olympic strategy,
have to use the advantages of such a system to improve our
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)
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