For fans of winter sports, Wang Chunlu is not a name that is easily forgotten.
Formerly one of the world's top short-track speed skaters, Wang has won multiple titles in international events. Retired from competition, Wang has become a force behind the country's quest for Winter Olympic glory.
|Wang Chunlu competes in the final of short-track speed skating women's 3000m relay in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.Together with other three skaters,Yang Yang(A),Yang Yang(S) and Sun Dandan, Wang won the silver medal in the game, losing to the Krean team.[China Daily]|
After her retirement in 2003, Wang studied in Canada for two years where she was also the coach of the Canadian junior national team. Despite good pay in Canada, Wang returned to China in 2005 to be the team leader of the Chinese short track speed skating team.
"When China's Winter Sports Administrative Center called me back to support the team, I hesitated since I was living comfortably in Canada," said Wang.
"Anyway I'm Chinese. If I coach the Canadian team, no matter how strong the skaters are, they will win for Canada, but not my country. So, I want to come back to make my contribution to my team."
Together with Yang Yang, who broke the gold medal jinx for China at the Winter Olympic Games, Wang is among the most respected short-track speed skaters in the country.
At her first World Championships in 1995, Wang, who picked up skating at the age of eight, clinched gold medals at women's 500m, 1,000m and silvers at overall and 3,000m relay races.
Since then she has claimed 27 world championship titles, two silver medals and one bronze medal at the Winter Olympic Games.
Wang's first Olympic experience was the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, and it was a painful one.
In the 500m race, in which Wang was one of the strongest contenders for the gold medal, she was pushed on the last lap forcing her to fall just short of the finishing line, costing her the gold.
"When I slid into the side of the rink, everything seemed to go in slow motion, as my career rushed past me," Wang, now 29, recalled.
Wang set her sights on the 2002 Salt Lake City Games four years ago. With everything going well as the Games approached, she was struck by a wrist injury with three months to go.
But she did not give up, insisting on getting on the ice every day to maintain her form.
The 2002 Winter Olympic Games will be written in the history of China's winter sports as the first time the country won gold, but it was Yang, not Wang, who took the honor.
"The gold medal was what I was aiming for, but being part of the process for the gold was also special," said Wang, who had to settle for bronze. "Taking part and enjoying the process is also an Olympic dream."
With her racing skates hung up, now Wang is focused on helping a new generation of winners.
"At present, my job is to lead the team in overseas competition, offer support and look at ways to develop the team," said Wang.
"Every time we go abroad to compete I have to do the same routine - write reports, apply for visas, book hotels and communicate with organizations," Wang said.
"Every time I have to fill in over 100 applications with no mistakes. I came to realize that one gold medal required the support of many people."
Now when Wang hears the national anthem, it summons different feelings.
"When I was an athlete, I could fight for my country directly. But as the
team leader, I have to do a lot of routine work before getting the medals. It
requires more patience. But I still feel proud of my homeland when I see the
national flag flying high.
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