China’s short track speed skaters leave worlds on high note
Published: Mar 18, 2024 10:43 PM
Chinese skater Lin Xiaojun celebrates after winning the men's 500-meter final in the ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Dresden, Germany, on February 5, 2023. Photo: VCG

Chinese skater Lin Xiaojun celebrates after winning the men's 500-meter final in the ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Dresden, Germany, on February 5, 2023. Photo: VCG

China finished the 2024 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships on top of the medal table with four golds in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Sunday night. The victories in the team events are a huge morale booster for the athletes.

Following previous successes in the men's 500m and 1,500m events, China triumphed in the mixed team relay and defended the men's 5,000m relay title on the final day of the tournament to wrap up the season on a high note. 

As the season's finale, the world championships provided important opportunities for each team to prepare for the 2026 Milan Winter Olympic Games. 

China has improved from one gold and one silver won at the last worlds. The success was highlighted by teamwork and overall strength, Liu Yu, a Beijing-based sports commentator, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"The victories achieved in the relay events showcase our combined strength and unwavering resolve. The team's unity and remarkable execution were evident in the race, highlighting their mutual support," said Liu.

The men's team performed exceptionally well at this worlds, and several young women athletes also gained valuable experience through the competition, narrowing the gap with the world's top skaters, Liu noted.

Lin Xiaojun, Liu Shaoang, Liu Shaolin and Sun Long edged past archrivals South Korea to post a winning time of 7:18.468 seconds in the 5,000m relay final. The mixed team relay saw Fan Kexin, Gong Li, Lin and Liu Shaoang clocking a winning time of 2:37.697 seconds.

Lin stepped out of the shadow of a previous season marked by less than ideal performances and emerged as one of the championship's brightest stars. 

Following his individual gold in the men's 500m race, the 27-year-old added two relay gold medals to his tally. 

He stood out as the sole active skater to have won every individual event spanning from the 500m to the 3,000m (not included in the current championships) as well as all relay events at the tournament.

"In pursuit of loftier goals, we will continue to forge ahead. Next season, I will return to the arena with my teammates with a stronger image. In the future, I hope more people will follow short track speed skating and support its development in China. We are the united Chinese team," Lin said via his personal account on Sina Weibo after the race. 

Before transferring to China in 2021, Lin, formerly known as Lim Hyo-jun, had won the 1,000m and 1,500m titles at the world championships. 

He was also an Olympic champion in 1,500m in 2018.

China's head coach Zhang Jing attributed the victories to the team's joint efforts. 

"Our athletes share a close bond, engaging in constant communication, video analysis, and mutual learning, especially mastering the intricate baton exchanges," said Zhang.

Earlier, Lin's teammate Sun Long won the men's 1,500m in 2:23.009 seconds. 

The victory also marked the 100th gold medal win by the Chinese team in the history of the world championships.

"I believe the numbers will get bigger and bigger, and the team will continue to improve. For us, this is just another new beginning," the 23-year-old Sun said of the milestone.