|China's head coach Li Yan speaks at the news briefing ahead of the ISU World Cup Shanghai stop on November 8, 2017. [Xinhua]|
The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating event has arrived in Shanghai.
This year's World Cup has been expanded from 2 to 4 stops for athletes to collect points and qualify for next year's Pyoengchang Winter Olympic Games. Shanghai is the 3rd stop.
Chinese athletes are preparing to go for maximum Olympic berths. Head coah Li Yan says the International Skating Union's decision offers more chances for her players.
"The change will give more players opportunities, and will increase the chances of top players staying in the game. For example, if a top player made an early mistake, he can make up for it in the following competitions. The ISU took the whole picture into consideration and is giving athletes multiple chances.Overall I think it's good for us," Li said.
Team China do need second chances, as Chinese skaters have struggled for consistancy, especially in the mid and long-distance disciplines.
Chinese skaters did earn one gold medal, one silver and 2 bronze from the previous two stops in Hungary and the Netherlands.
Li Yan says it's time to put past results behind them as they seek a fresh start at home.
"We know we still need to improve. That's why we keep training and keep looking for breakthroughs. At the start of competitions, we are looking ahead rather than back, because that is the past. That's how we have been working until now."
Li Yan remains confident about China's prospects.
She has set Olympic qualification as the top priority, while asking the team to gain experience and get to know their opponents.
That's what Zhou Yang has been doing during this year's World Cup 1 and 2 events.
The 1500 meter specialist has now returned from an injury that kept her sidelined for two years.
"It has been two years since my last international competition. So I'm learning about my opponents, and trying to figure out where I stand on an international level. I came back to the national team about 3, 4 months before World Cup 1 so rediscovering the track is very important. I made some improvements over the past month; me and my teammates worked well together," Zhou said.
Zhou Yang has set the Winter Games as her ultimate goal.
So has her teammate Fan Kexin, who is a specialist in the women's 500 meter event.
"I see it more as motivation, rather than pressure. As the coach said, we are all doing our best and not thinking too much. The final show down will be in Pyeongchang so qualification is what we are looking for at the moment. We didn't talk a lot because we're all focused on things on track," Fan said.
Chinese athletes will compete for Olympic tickets against over 200 oppoents during the 4-day event in Shanghai.
The results of qualifying will be finalized in Seoul later this month.
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