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Sochi Winter Olympics: China's Zhang Hao not ready to call it quits

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 - 8:57am IST | Agency: Reuters

When his partner decided to hang up her skates after over 15 years of skating together, Zhang Hao still was not ready to call it quits.

Two years ago the 29-year-old found another partner 13 years his junior and is competing in his fourth Olympics after he became China's first figure skating silver medallist at the 2006 Turin Games.

Although he is one of the senior citizens in the sport, Zhang has no thoughts of retiring and hopes to compete not only at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018 but at the next Winter Olympics after that.

"We have worked together for less than two years and now we are competing at the Olympic Games. It's great. It shows how good we are," Zhang said of his new pairing with Peng Cheng.

Zhang was at the cutting edge of the sport with his former partner Zhang Dan. The pair packed their programmes with breath-taking lifts, huge throws and dizzying side-by-side jumps.

They were the first to perform a quadruple twist in 2001 and the technical standards they set are still a high bar for many competitors today.

But the couple are perhaps best remembered for reminding the world of the risks - often cloaked by artistry - that pairs skaters take on the ice.

During their free skate in 2006, Zhang Dan crumpled when an attempted throw quadruple Salchow went awry. After pausing to recover, the judges allowed the couple to continue and handed them a podium finish.

Zhang's standing with his new partner, they lie in seventh place in the Olympic pairs after a free programme to the flute-laced musical soundtrack of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,", is not quite so illustrious.

They are the second-best pair from China, after Pang Qing and Tong Jian, who lie fourth in the standings.

Their coach, Zhao Hongbo, believes the pair have promise but admits they have their work cut out.

"Zhang is much older, and he might not be able to sustain his physical strength during the competition. Peng is fine, but she needs time to catch up," he told reporters.

"In the future I hope they can go out and not look like an older brother skating with a younger sister." (Editing by Ed Osmond)




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