Awarding Xinjiang the right to host the quadrennial sporting gala echoed the country’s ambition to encourage 300 million people in China to participate in winter sports while preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Xinjiang has built a new, world-class ice sports center in a southwestern suburb of Urumqi for all the ice-related action, including speed and figure skating, curling and ice hockey.
“It will serve as a training base for the national team after the National Winter Games,” said Tong Lixin, an official of China’s State General Administration of Sport.
Last July, Beijing defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan to win the right to host the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which made “Winter Olympics” a hot topic at the National Winter Games in Xinjiang.
“The 2008 Summer Olympic Games offered the Chinese a good opportunity to learn more about summer sports. I believe, the 2022 Winter Games will also help enlighten my fellow countrymen on winter sports,” said Zhang Hong, China’s first Winter Olympic champion in speedskating.
In an attempt to spot talents for the 2022 Olympics, the organizers of these National Winter Games arranged races for athletes under 19 years old purposely. The initiative seemed to work.
Teenager Han Mei representing Urumqi refreshed the national youth record for the women’s 1,500m speed skating event, while 15-year-old Li Jinyu impressed in short-track speed skating, eclipsing the 1,500m world record.
“A few budding stars have emerged at the National Winter Games. Hopefully, some of them will appear in the 2022 Olympics,” said Tong Lixin.
Well established athletes like Zhang Hong are also yearning to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“It’s an honor for athletes to participate in the Olympic Games on homeland, so I will keep skating, until I can’t skate any more,” said the 28-year-old Zhang.
World champion Fan Kexin, who won both 500m and 1,500m here, also dreams about skating at the 2022 Games.
“I will be 30 years old in 2022. I’m eager to compete on home soil then,” said Fan. ” Even if I can’t realize it, I will try to make a contribution to the 2022 Games, anyway.” Enditem