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January 2, 2019

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Wu looking to do well over long distances

Wu Dajing, the men’s 500-meter short-track speed skating Olympic champion and world record holder, has called 2018 an “unforgettable” year, saying that his paramount objective in 2019 is to challenge his limits in longer distance competitions.

“The year 2018 has been unforgettable for me. My Olympic dream finally came true,” said Wu, who won the men’s 500 meters at Pyeongchang 2018, breaking world records twice in one day to seal his first Olympic gold medal, also the first-ever title for Chinese men’s ice sports at the Winter Games.

Although leading wire to wire in all three contests en route to the final on February 22 and being praised as “untouchable”, Wu said the exciting triumph was by no means easy.

China, the next host of the Winter Olympics, faced an embarrassing 13-day gold drought after the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Wu, the most likely Chinese skater to win a gold, was disqualified from the men’s 1,000 semifinals because of a penalty.

“I was under tremendous pressure because of my failure in the men’s 1,000 meters. I felt so good before (the penalty) that day,” the 24-year-old recalled. “The 500 was my last chance.

“I could find no way to release the stress. I just told myself, ‘if I had to do something, I must be the best’.”

The victory at Pyeongchang was not the end of Wu’s glorious 2018. In November, he refreshed his own world record in 39.505 seconds at the ISU short-track Word Cup in Salt Lake City, Utah. “In terms of my fitness after the Olympics, the record was beyond my expectations,” Wu said with a grin. “I competed with all my strength and finished on the podium.”

Flash in the pan

“My teammates asked me why I tried so hard in the restoration stage,” the Heilongjiang Province skater said. “I want to tell everyone that my career is not a flash in the pan. I have new chapters to unfold.”

From the chaser behind Russia’s Victor An in Sochi 2014 to the “Speed King” of skating in 2018, Wu has greater responsibilities to shoulder in the new year after he was unanimously voted as the new captain of the Chinese short-track speed skating national team last September.

“China announced a concrete measure to encourage 300 million people in the country to participate in winter sports. That’s one my duties as an ice skater. I would like to participate in social activities to popularize ice and snow sports in China,” he revealed.

Moreover, Wu’s vision extends to a more distant future. “Everything we are going to do in the year 2019 is for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, in three years the results will be even greater (than the results of 2018). My next dream is to win golds at home.

“I want to make breakthroughs not only in 500 meters, but also in 1,000, 1,500, 5,000 relay and 2,000 mixed relay. I expect to challenge my limits in longer distance competitions, in every event that I participate. That’s my paramount goal in the new year.”


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