‘Unleash my full energy’
Olympic champ Ren Ziwei sets off continuing to pursue excellence
Published: Sep 22, 2022 04:44 PM
Chinese Olympic short-track speed skating champion Ren Ziwei works out at a training camp in Beijing on July 11, 2022. Photo: VCG

Chinese Olympic short-track speed skating champion Ren Ziwei works out at a training camp in Beijing on July 11, 2022. Photo: VCG

Olympic short track speed skating champion Ren Ziwei cannot remember how many times he has crossed the finish line. But he knows there is one "line" that he should not cross.

"I'm fond of playing computer games," the two-time Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics gold medalist told Xinhua. 

"But during my training period, I only switch on the computer on Sundays, as I know intensive training awaits me the next day and I need to embrace it with a good physical shape."

Ren has completed his tuneup at a national short-track training camp, in which the national team's roster was streamlined ahead of the new International Skating Union (ISU) season, which begins in late October.

"Every day you need to execute training plans laid out by your coach." 

"Things will go in a different way for different people, and they will benefit differently from training," said Ren.

Ren said he has felt the passion from Zhang Jing, general consultant of the training camp and former head coach of the Hungarian national team.

"She has brought us some training regimens that she carried out in Europe. You can see that I have lost some weight these days. Every day after I finish my training, I can feel the progress myself," commented Ren.

Taking up the sport at the age of seven, Ren didn't deem himself a gifted athlete. 

"There is nowhere I stand out, but I'm on my way to continuing to pursue a 'golden' dream," he said, referring to his aspiration to claim more titles.

Recalling the Beijing Winter Olympics, Ren said his most unforgettable moment was standing on the podium, seeing the national flag hoisted and hearing the national anthem played.

"I had dreamed of this moment numerous times in my childhood. But when you finally make it, it's totally different from what you had imagined," he said.

"It's quite difficult to sing the national anthem there. You're just choked with sobs and feeling that the past years of efforts have finally paid off."

Maybe it's surprising to some people that, despite winning the 2,000-meter mixed team relay and men's 1,000-meter gold medals, Ren rated his Beijing 2022 campaign only seven out of 10.

"For me, it felt like starting on a high note while ending low. We had a good start, but things didn't go as we had expected," he explained.

"Reflecting on the Olympic journey, we discovered our weaknesses and hoped to make up what we had missed out in Beijing in the next four years."

"It was a tough 2,000-meter relay. Many unexpected things took place during the race, but we managed to come through," Ren said in a statement.

Ren won a 3,000-meter relay gold and a 1,500-meter bronze at the ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships in March 2014, in his first international appearance before he was elevated to China's national team in October 2014.

"Starting from the World Junior Championships, I moved forward step by step to the Olympic gold medal. Everyone is on his way of pursuing dreams. As long as we persist, we will finally get good results," said Ren, who attributed his success at Beijing 2022 to a stable form.

"I didn't have many ups and downs. I didn't loosen up a lot over the past four years en route to the Beijing Winter Olympics. I can feel my improvement every day."

Looking forward to the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Ren shrugged off any burden as a reigning champion.

"I just hope to unleash my full energy. My competitive level could go down in this Olympic cycle, but I can help younger teammates grow in a different role."

This is why he highlighted an inheritance of tradition in China's short-track team.

"I hope to see a new generation of athletes stand out and shoulder their responsibilities. Maybe they are a little inexperienced now, but I want to help them grow fast and display their competitiveness in these years."

Ren hoped he can keep healthy and help his young teammates grow in the first two years, and try his best to improve himself in the second half of the next Olympic cycle.

"I will continue to strive for the gold with my teammates," he said. "If I am available, I also hope to promote this sport and involve more people in it, which means not only watching our games, but also participating in it and having fun."

For Ren, apart from traditional powerhouses China and South Korea, the Netherlands, Hungary, Canada and several other teams have shown competitiveness in the event.

"No one can be assured of winning the title as there are possibly five or even 10 athletes who have the chance of winning."

"Therefore, details play a bigger role. Whoever executes well on details will have a bigger chance for the win," he noted.

Ren thought that youth is one of the Chinese team's advantages. "We have some young and energetic athletes, and they have brought vigor and youth to our team."

As for himself, "I have many reasons for quitting. But I want to make contributions to this sport and my country. This is the only reason for my persistence now."

Ren hoped to play an exemplary role beyond the playing field. During his vacation, he volunteered in aiding the anti-epidemic fight in his hometown Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

"I hope to do my utmost to help people around. During my vacation, I want to do something that I always want to but don't have enough time to do, including volunteering in the anti-epidemic fight and helping people in difficulties," he said.