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Big China contingent for 2010 Games

CHINA will send more than 200 athletes and officials to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, its biggest delegation for the winter games and about one-third larger than its representation in 2006 at Turin, Italy.

In a statement yesterday on the Chinese Olympic Committee's Website, committee vice president Xiao Tian said he expected improved results over 2006. China sent a delegation of 151 to Turin and finished No. 14 on the medal table with two gold, four silver and five bronze medals.

About half of the delegation will be athletes, Xiao said.

Xiao said China would be competitive in short-track speedskating, speedskating, freestyle skiing aerials and figure skating. He said breakthroughs might come in curling and snowboarding events.

Germany topped the 2006 medal table with 11 gold and 29 medals overall. The United States was No. 2 with nine gold and 25 overall. Only 26 countries won medals in Turin, and only 18 managed at least one gold medal.

On Thursday, IOC president Jacques Rogge predicted an "extraordinary and memorable" Vancouver Games as he kicked-off the one-year countdown.

"The countdown has begun," Rogge told a crowd at the new Olympic speedskating oval in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond. "In just one year, the slopes of Whistler, the Pacific Coliseum and Cypress Mountain will be open for Olympic competition."

Earlier in the day, Rogge unveiled the torches for the Olympic relay across Canada and congratulated the Games organizing committee for its work to this point.

Rogge said everything appears to be on track for the games. "I have been extremely pleased with the progress of the organization," he said.

Rogge acknowledged the Olympics have not been immune to the global economic crisis, and said a focus had been on controlling costs.


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