"It has been said that all you do is cycle when you train."
|Guo Shuang wins two gold medals at the Doha Asian Games. [sina.com.cn]
"Correct. Cycle after cycle. We do not jog or swim, but just cycle."
"It sounds very boring."
"It is cool!"
This girl who takes great pleasure in cycling is Guo Shuang. She comes from Jilin and has grabbed gold medals in the Women's Cycling Track 500-meter Timed Trial and the Women's Sprint at the Doha Asian Games.
Since the Women's Cycling Track 500-meter Timed Trial was cut from the Beijing Olympics, Women's Sprint has been listed as a new event. As part of the "08 Strategy", Guo was sent to Switzerland Cycling Training Center to train in 2002. She will train there for 10 months every year and is considered as the "Star Hope" of Chinese women's cycling.
From Jilin to Switzerland, Thousands of Miles Apart
From Guo's hometown Jilin to Switzerland, it takes 12 hours on a plane, a distance covering seven time zones. 2006 was Guo Shuang's fifth year of training abroad.
The first time she touched a bicycle was the summer she was six years old.
Once, when Guo's family took her to visit her grandmother, all the adults were busy and little Guo was bored until she discovered the bike parked outside the house. She excitedly pushed the bike down the street. After one afternoon, Guo was able to ride the bike many meters. "Hehe, maybe it comes from my parents. My father played football and ran short-distance before; my mother is a physical education teacher and her strength is in middle and long distance running."
Although she showed great talent in cycling, like other children, the 20 minutes riding to and from school was the most frequent contact she had with a bike. The second year she was in middle school, the Jilin Provincial Cycling Team coach Zhao Guocai came to her school and picked her for the cycling team.
October 13, 1999, was the first day of Guo's sports career. She was only 13 years old, and it was the first time that she was away from home. On arriving in Changchun, Guo was very unaccustomed to the daily training. She called her family everyday and cried, saying she wanted to go home. Coach Zhao's extra tender love helped Guo quickly adjust to the new environment.
Guo's innate talent for cycling fully emerged after only one year. She won first place in the youth group 200-meter and 500-meter Timed Trial for Road Cycling in both 2000 and 2001. In April 2001, 15-year old Guo went to Beijing Asian Cycling Training Center and attended the National Youth cycling training.
Two months later, the World Cycling Championship (Group B) was held in Qinhuangdao. Before the event, Guo heard that a foreign coach would arrive to select cyclists. The foreign coach targeted at the 17 to 24 year old age group, so Guo was too young. She could participate in the test but was excluded from the formal competition. However, due to her cycling skills and large room for improvement, Guo and Shanghai candidate Li Na were selected to go to Switzerland in January 2002 to train at the International Cycling Union Training Center. The person that selected Guo was the center's development director, Frederick Magne, who had won seven world championships in sprinting.
Days Abroad: Alone but not Lonely
The second day she arrived in Switzerland, Guo devoted herself to daily training. The first year of training was to help her lay a solid foundation, so she did not attend any competitions. According to her schedule, she had one-hour of culture classes and four hours of professional training.
According to Guo, the biggest difference about training in Switzerland is "little quantity, but high quality". When in Beijing, Guo had experienced foreign methods of training, so she quickly got used to the training. However, she did not like the food there.
"My mother is an ethnic Hui and my father is an ethnic Han, so my diet is very strict. But now that I am training outside, basically I can eat just about anything except for pork."
No matter how hard it is and how tired she feels, Guo persists because she loves cycling. But she has been very homesick.
"When did you cry for the first time in Switzerland?"
"I cannot remember exactly. After all, it has been four or five years," Guo smiled shyly.
As time passed, her parents could hear more laughing, and more about her training, her coach and her teammates from the other side of the telephone.
There are more than 30 teammates from Cuba, Jamaica, Denmark, Columbia and Czech in the training center, and there are four girls.
Guo Shuang's room in Switzerland is small, however, it is filled with Guo's books. "I like reading very much, especially history books. Abroad, because they have seen it in movies, people often ask me if Chinese men still braid their hair. They are curious about China's history and eager to learn how the Great Wall was built. It would be a shame if I was not able to answer these questions."
Training overseas has proven to be effective. At the 2003 World Youth Track Championships in Moscow, Guo snatched the gold medal in the Women's 500-meter Timed Trial. Though Guo was not able to attend the 2004 Athens Olympics, she won three out of six gold medals at the World Youth Cycling Championships. At the Bicycle Chase in the 2005 World Cup, Guo won a silver medal.
Last year at the Tenth National Games, Magne said that he would accompany Guo to China to attend the match. When being interviewed, Magne recalled, "On my first sight of the cute girl, I was drawn to her. Guo is a smart child, very talented, and able to quickly comprehend things. Most importantly, she works very hard. She is the best student I have ever had."
Guo did not let her coach down. In the finals of the Women's Sprint, she beat a Henan competitor, Gao Yawei, and grabbed her first medal in the national games.
Leading the Way to 2008
When the Women's Sprint of Doha Games was over, Guo did not appear excited after winning. "To put it frankly, my performance today was just so-so. I hurried a little when accelerating." She won two gold medals her first time at the Asian Games "The only choice I have now is the Women's Sprint."
Among a large group of young cyclists, Guo is undoubtedly in the lead. After a long sports career, Guo has not been injured. "For cyclists, the most vulnerable parts are the waist and knees. During training, I pay a lot of attention to the smallest details."
Before the Beijing Olympics, Guo thinks that she needs to gain more experience and learn more strategy. "There are a lot of things that you can only learn from competing." When talking about the Beijing Olympics, Guo looks serious, "There are less than two years from the Beijing Olympics. I must work doubly hard and honor my homeland."
Name: Guo Shuang
Native Place: Inner Mongolia
Date of Birth: February 26, 1986
Height: 1.67 meters
Weight: 70 kilograms
2005 The Tenth National Games – Women's Sprint Champion
2006 World Championship – Third in Women's Sprint and Keirin
(Source: sina.com.cn/ Translated by Women of China)