Wang leaves some big skates to fill

Updated: 2011-12-13 07:41

By Lei Lei (China Daily)

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Wang leaves some big skates to fill

The women's team from China celebrates after winning the 3,000m final at the Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Shanghai on Sunday. [Photo/Agencies]

BEIJING - The Chinese short-track speed skating team is trying to find its way without Wang Meng.

It's not easy, and it might go on for a long time.

The former captain and Olympic champion, who is serving an indefinite suspension, still has a long way to go before she can return to the team.

"Wang's suspension has only been for a short time up to now, so she still needs more time before she can return to the national team," said Zhao Yinggang, director of China's Winter Sports Administrative Center.

Zhao was in Shanghai on Sunday on the sidelines of the World Cup stop.

In August, Wang was expelled from the national team and banned from national and international competition for punching coach Wang Chunlu during a drunken brawl after she returned late to training camp following a night out.

After being suspended, Wang went to train in Canada, then came back to her hometown of Harbin last month to train with the local team.

Media and the fans had speculated the World Cup stop in Shanghai or the National Winter Games next month might be good opportunities for the 27-year-old to return, but those in charge remain cautious.

"Wang is still learning the lessons from her mistake, and it's a good thing that she wants to return to the team. But due to her current training condition, she is not capable enough to go back to the national team in a short time," Lan Li, vice-director of the administrative center, was quoted as saying by local media.

"According to the current situation, Wang will be absolutely absent from the World Championships next month, which means she will be away for the whole season."

With the four-time Winter Olympic champion absent, traditional powerhouse China - which swept all four gold medals on the women's side at the 2010 Games - has been trapped in a difficult situation this season.

Although they remain dominant in the relay, the remaining skaters have seldom stepped onto the podium in individual events. Wang is still considered the backbone of the team for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

The authorities were unclear on Wang's status for the 2014 Games.

"Whether she competes at the 2014 Olympics depends on how much determination Wang has to return, and how hard she works on the ice during daily training," Lan said. "Wang's behavior shadowed the image of short-track speed skating in China, so she has to have a deep awareness of her mistake."

China Daily