Drama-filled Chinese speed-skating story's Kamloops chapter
Chinese short-track speed-skating coach Li Yan would like to have her best skater back in the fold, but that decision is not up to her.
“For our team and for this sport in China, as well, we really want [her] one day to come back and compete for the country again, but we have to wait for the process,” Yan told KTW.
Wang Meng, who won three gold medals at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, was dropped last August from the national team and banned from international and national competition after a physical altercation — allegedly alcohol-fuelled — with former team manager Wang Chunlu.
The dust-up resulted in dozens of stitches for Meng, who is not unfamiliar to controversy.
According to chinadaily.com, Meng was expelled from the national team for six months in 2007 for criticizing a coach’s tactics and was last year alleged to have clashed with security guards during a night out in the southwestern Chinese city of Lijiang.
Chunlu was relieved of her duties after the altercation with Meng and replaced by Liu Hao.
The out-of-favour skater is again travelling with the national team.
Meng is in Kamloops training with the Chinese B team, which Yan said is “kind of like a provincial team.”
The A team trained together at McArthur Island Sports Centre between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 16.
At 3 p.m., the B team, Meng included, took the ice and trained until 5 p.m.
Neither Yan or Hao wished to speak extensively about Meng’s situation.
“She is trying really hard to prepare for the coming future, but I’m not quite sure about that,” Hao said.
“It’s the job of the Chinese Skating Association and also the Chinese Olympic Committee to decide.”
It seems no timetable has been set for Meng’s return to international competition.
Her resume is incredible.
Three medals — one gold, one silver, one bronze — at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, accompany the three golds she won in Vancouver.
The world-championship section of her medal mantle — 16 gold, 14 silver and three bronze medals — isn’t lacking hardware, either.
“It’s not easy for an athlete to do that,” Yan said.
“For the coach, me, I wish she could come back and compete for [the] country.”