Chinese athletes preparing for 2026 Winter Olympics

He Leijing,Wang Jingyu,Lu Xingji
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 27, 2024
Adjust font size:

Su Yiming of Shanxi competes in men's snowboard big air final at the 14th National Winter Games in Hulun Buir, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Feb. 23, 2024. (Xinhua/Long Lei)

China's ace athletes in winter sports have started prep work for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics. 

by sportswriters He Leijing, Wang Jingyu and Lu Xingji

HOHHOT, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Several Chinese athletes who are about to wind up the 14th National Winter Games are looking to follow up and flex their muscles at the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics.

Marking China's premier winter sports event following Beijing 2022, the National Games features over 3,000 athletes, including Olympic champions and young prospects, each vying for medals in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region until February 27.

Following their all-time best of nine gold, four silver and two bronze medals at Beijing 2022, Chinese athletes have maintained their momentum. For many elite athletes, including Winter Olympic champions Su Yiming and Gao Tingyu, the Games serves as a crucial preparatory stage before forging ahead to the 2026 Winter Olympics.


The 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics is expected to feature 176 events across eight sports. All the events of the Winter Olympics, including bobsled and ski mountaineering, featured in the National Games.

"The National Winter Games can be seen as a large-scale training before the 2026 Winter Olympics, to further enhance the international competitiveness of China's winter sports," said Ding Tao, an official from China's General Administration of Sport.

Chinese athletes are medal contenders in sports like short track speed skating, speed skating and figure skating, and delving into the National Games for prospects, fans can still pin their hopes on ice sports which have proved wildly popular among the public.

Inner Mongolia speed skater Han Mei, who did not secure a medal at Beijing 2022, triumphed with three golds in front of her home crowd. "We should dream big, and my next goal is to finish on the podium at the 2026 Winter Olympics," Han said.

Chinese snowboarding sensation Su, who bagged two golds at the National Games, also aimed high. "My goal has always remained unchanged, which is to win the Olympic gold," he said.

But the 20-year-old Beijing Winter Olympic champion admitted that his path to the 2026 Winter Olympics would not be plain sailing. "My physical conditions and various off-court factors will make the preparations more challenging."

Many Olympic champions failed to impress at the National Games, which in some cases helped clear their minds and gave them a boost to better adjust themselves for the bigger stage.

"This is my first National Winter Games experience, and it feels like a small-scale Olympic Games," said Olympic champion Liu Shaoang, who failed to earn a gold at the national event.

"Fierce competition will help us make mutual progress, and the National Games is a great opportunity for us to brace ourselves for the 2026 Winter Olympics," he added.


Thanks to the performances of athletes like Su, Gu Ailing and Xu Mengtao, China's gold medals on snow surpassed those on ice for the first time at Beijing 2022.

And bright prospects can still be seen in snow sports events. Olympic champion Gu did not attend the National Games, but continued her winning form elsewhere, emerging victorious in the FIS Women's Freeski Halfpipe World Cup last December.

"It feels great. In the second and third runs, I chose to try some actions that I haven't successfully done in training," she said after the competition.

Plenty of rising stars have also impressed during the National Games, with Sun Long of Jilin notching four golds in the star-studded short track speed skating events.

Wu Yu of Liaoning secured three golds in the men's long-distance speed skating events. Acknowledging the gap between China's long-distance speed skating and the world's elite, Wu was nevertheless optimistic about shining at the 2026 Winter Olympics.

"My overall performance in the national team has improved, so I have higher expectations for myself," Wu said.

The National Games added youth categories into its competition to build a platform for young athletes to gain experience, which is deemed conducive to the talent selection for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

"We have Olympic champions at the National Games, and also a large number of athletes of the younger generation. Many young talents have showcased their capabilities, which is of great significance for the talent pool in winter sports," said Zhang Xin, an official from China's General Administration of Sport.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share