Chinese Olympic speed-skating champion glides to star status

China 24

A crowning moment on an Olympic track has propelled one Chinese athlete to star status.

But the journey hasn’t always been smooth.

CGTN’s Frances Kuo has more on what it took to be the best in the world.

This is now the life of Wu Dajing: this week, a crush of fans and media greeted him at a Beijing airport.

“We did not expect that winter events can arouse so much public attention,” said Wu Dajing, Olympic speed skating champion.

Wu was returning from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics where he captured gold at the Games, the only gold for China there.

Wu blew past the competition and broke the world record twice – once in the quarterfinals, then in the finals.

“During the competition, what I thought more about was to keep up my speed and give my best performance. I exerted every effort because I didn’t want to give my competitors or the referees any chance,” Wu said.

Wu also won a silver and bronze at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Reaching these heights has not been easy.  Training often meant a 4 a.m. wake-up call every day and skating in frigid temperatures.

“The ice rink, the outdoor ice rink was very cold,” Wu recalled.  “It’d be lower than minus ten degrees Celsius. Every day, after ten minutes of skating, we’d be numb.”

Another obstacle would come his way – a serious injury during training.

“I didn’t see any blood,” Wu said. “Then I found blood on the ice. My coach told me to lie down. Then I knew I was hurt. I didn’t tell my family. My coach did. My parents went to see me that night. They asked for my opinion. They told me to think about it. They said, even though I was young, I had the right to choose.”

Wu chose to stay the course.  Now the 23-year-old  is an Olympic hero in China, and he’s already setting his sights on 2022.

“I have put my eyes on the next competition, the next Olympics,” said Wu. “No matter how my career will shape up, I hope I can contribute to our country’s short track development.”