‘Love to teach them skating’
46 years of persistence by Chinese grass-roots coach
Published: Sep 01, 2022 07:21 PM
Chinese skater Ren Ziwei competes at the men's 1,000-meter short track speed skating final at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on February 7, 2022. Photo: VCG

Chinese skater Ren Ziwei competes at the men's 1,000-meter short track speed skating final at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on February 7, 2022. Photo: VCG

"I'm so proud of you!" Wang Beiming was overjoyed when witnessing his former student Ren Ziwen race to win the short track speed skating at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

The grass-roots skating coach, who has been rooted in the ice rink all his life said: "I have focused on one thing my whole life, which only makes me happy."

At the age of 67, Wang is still as vigorous as young people. Looking through his WeChat Moments, a top social media networking in China, one could see pep talks such as "Hope," "You will win if you persevere," and "Never give up."

Wang started skating at 5 years old when he was given a pair of skates by chance. At the time, no one expected that skating could be his lifelong career.

During the time when Wang was preparing for the university entrance exam in 1976, he once met a group of children while skating at the former Heilongjiang Institute of Technology. This group of students from Qingbin Primary School in Harbin liked to follow Wang, and Wang was glad to teach them.

Later, on the ice rink every morning, they could always be seen skating. "That was my earliest students," Wang said.

After Wang was admitted to the former Harbin Normal College, he continued to teach these children.

"I love to teach them skating," he said.

That's why he chose to become a physical education teacher at Qingbin Primary School when he graduated.

Under his guidance, students of Qingbin achieved good results at many provincial and municipal competitions. His excellent record earned him a chance to be a full-time coach in the amateur sports school in Nangang District of the city.

Beyond teaching speed skating techniques, Wang was also a mentor for his disciples, trying everything he could to help them overcome adversities.

Wang Hongyang, World Cup champion, was raised in a poor family and even thought of quitting. To reduce his pressure, in their eight years together, coach Wang paid for his skates, helmets and clothes, hoping he could concentrate on training.

Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games champion Ren Ziwei, who also graduated from Qingbin Primary School, trained with Wang for many years.

In 2010 and 2011, Ren was injured and fractured bones twice, and Ren's parents decided not to let their son skate any more despite his passion for skating.

In order to let the young talent continue his career, Wang called Ren's parents multiple times to persuade them, and went to his home to carry out rehabilitation training for him.

Long-term fatigue worn the meniscus of Wang's both knees. The 67-year-old had to undergo surgery that required him rest for at least a month, but he shortened his recovery time to about two weeks and leaned on crutches to get back to his post as soon as possible.

"If Wang is not allowed to train, he will be angry with you, and nobody will be able to stop him!" one of his friend joked.

Over more than 40 years, Wang has written dozens of training diaries, and has trained thousands of skaters, some of whom entered the national and provincial teams.

He had received invitations from many colleges and sports teams, but he rejected them all. In his view, it is more meaningful to discover and cultivate promising kids for skating.

Now he still insists on being a coach at the grass-roots level. 

"I want to retire at 70; in the next few years I want to raise a few more kids," he said.