SOCHI, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Five journalists and one Olympic news service staff waited in the mixed zone for the Chinese speed skaters who were definitely outsiders in the women's 1,500m on Sunday in Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
Zhao Xin finished 23rd and Li Qishi, 27, in the "king of races" where the Dutch made a clean sweep, the third in Sochi, and even clinched the fourth place.
Whatever results the Chinese have did not really matter. After Zhang Hong seized the first ever speed skating Olympic gold for China on Thursday, they deserved more attention and respect in case one of them becomes another Olympic champion sometime in the future.
Before Zhang's victory, Xinhua, besides China's central TV reporter, usually was the only Chinese media interested in interviews with these unknown athletes.
The athletes were not ready to enjoy the limelight, either. Li was about to walk straight past the journalists without realizing that they were waiting for her.
But when she started to speak, she was clearly encouraged by Zhang, too.
"I didn't do well this time, but I can be good next time. I am very young," said Li, 19. She switched from short track to speed skating a year ago and qualified for the Olympics after two World Cups, which were the only international experience she had prior to Sochi.
Li believed in the old saying "No pain, no gain" but she found that it was not always the case in short track which prompted her to change sport.
"I felt that in short track your victory often depended on luck and many other things besides your capability. What I have gained was so little compared with my efforts. So I switched to speed skating and found more room in this sport," she said. Li started short track training at 9.
Li's story was very much like Zhang's, in which Zhang spent eight years on short track before she picked up speed skating.
With Zhang's surprise yet heartening win, Li has more confidence in herself now.
"A while ago, competing in the Olympics seemed out of my reach. Then I changed my sport and raced in the World Cups and I am here now. Sometimes, what you need is merely a chance," she said.
"So I believe with more experience, efforts and patience, I can be be somebody!" she said.