jeudi 4 décembre 2008

A tale of two skaters, and one coach

China Daily - December 4

On a wall in her house in Colorado, speed skating coach Li Yan has hung a photo of herself with former student Apolo Anton Ohno. Some 10,000km away in her Beijing home, on another wall hidden away from prying eyes, is one of her with Chinese women's No 1 Wang Meng.

China's head coach Li Yan celebrates with one of her short track skaters, Zhou Yang, during a World Cup stop in Beijing on Sunday. Photo Yang Shizhong
"I'm the best friend of all my skaters," the 40-year-old told China Daily last weekend at Beijing Capital Gymnasium during a World Cup stop.
"I treasure all my coaching experiences."
Yet it was not easy for Li, a slim but energetic figure who was bubbling with excitement after seeing the men win their first medals of the season in Beijing, to tame the stars and show them what they were capable of. Ohno, in particular, was mistrustful of the Chinese coach and her methods despite coming from a mixed Asian-American background, while Wang constantly challenged her ideas at the outset.
"Ohno didn't know what I could bring to the team and there was also a language barrier to begin with," she said, recalling her move to head up the US national team in 2003.
"We didn't know each other, but I opened my heart and did my best and we became firm friends.
Ohno became so enamored of Li that he rushed straight over to give her a hug after crossing the finish line in Turin to win Olympic gold.
"That hug is the biggest affirmation of my coaching success and it meant a lot," she said.

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