BEIJING, Aug. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- China has grown into a strong sporting nation based on its recent performances in the Summer Olympics, but the results of the last two Winter Games show that China still has a long way to go in many of the snow and ice sports.
The country first started sending competitors to these cold-weather spectacles in 1980, and Damion Jones takes a look at how its showings have improved at this global showpiece over the last 35 years.
China made its Winter Olympic debut at the 1980 Lake Placid Games, with 28 athletes heading to Upstate New York and participating in 18 events, but none would make the final six in their disciplines. But the experience would strengthen the country's resolve to be more competitive in the future.
This would be no rapid transition, though, as the podium drought continued in Sarajevo and Calgary, before the PRC's representatives finally broke into the top three at the 1992 Olympiad in Albertville by claiming three silver medals, including two from speed skater Ye Qiaobo, who placed second in the women's 500 and 1,000 meter races.
Chinese athletes would follow up those encouraging performances with three more medals in Lillehammer, as Ye took bronze in the 1,000, while Zhang Yan snagged second in the 500, and Chen Lu's third place showing in women's figure skating represented another significant breakthrough.
Continuing to ride the momentum, PRC competitors would haul in six silvers and two bronzes at the 1998 Nagano Games, before the biggest step up took place in 2002, as Yang Yang won two gold medals in short track speed skating in Salt Lake City, to forever engrave her name into the history book of China's journey through the Winter Olympics.
Bolstered by that groundbreaking achievement, the PRC would send 76 representatives to the 2006 Games in Turin, where Han Xiaopeng laid claim to the country's first medal in freestyle skiing as he became the first Chinese man to strike gold at the snow and ice showpiece. Wang Meng then finished first in short track speed skating, replicating Yang's success from four years earlier.
And she would continue to shine in Vancouver in 2010, by picking up three more titles, and breaking the world record twice during the 500 meter engagement. Wang finished with four golds, one silver, and one bronze, becoming the most decorated female short track athlete on the planet.
And China continued to make strides at the 2014 Sochi Games, as Zhang Hong rose to the occasion by winning gold in the women's 3,000 meter speed skating race, an event long dominated by Dutch competitors, while Li Jianrou and Zhou Yang both claimed championships in short track, helping the PRC close out the spectacle brandishing three golds, four silvers, and two bronzes, with eight of the medalists born in the 1990s, and expected to help the nation maintain its momentum in the run-up to 2022 and beyond.