Mon, 06 Dec 2021

BEIJING, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- With less than four months to go, the expectations for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games are accumulating among athletes.

"I'm absolutely delighted to finally get the news that we're going to be heading to Beijing," said Bruce Mouat, a British curler after the British Olympic Association announced their first batch of athletes to the Games last Friday.

Mouat will not only compete in the men's event, but also pair with Jen Dodds in the mixed doubles.

Some athletes are luckier, as they have already tasted a bit of the Winter Olympics by taking part in the test events for Beijing 2022 during the last two weeks.

As the first international competition of the Beijing 2022 test series, the China Open speed skating event has drawn athletes from China, the Netherlands and South Korea to compete in 12 events from Oct. 8-10.

The China Open event, which aims to test all elements of the competition, was highly praised by skaters on its strict pandemic prevention and control measures, well-equipped competition facilities and systematic organization.

"This venue is grand and gorgeous, and the pandemic prevention measures make me feel safe," said Youth Olympic champion Isabel Grevelt of the Netherlands.

"It's a beautiful ice rink, and I had a great experience on it. The quality of the ice is also very good, and the facilities are perfect," said Yang Binyu, who won the first gold medal for the Chinese delegation in speed skating women's mass start at Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

"I am honored to participate in the competition on the venue that will host the Beijing Winter Olympics. The venue is well-equipped with great facilities," said South Korea's Park Chae-won.

The 2021 Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy, also a test event for Beijing 2022, concluded at the Capital Gymnasium last Saturday after a gala.

The 53-year-old Capital Gymnasium will be the venue for figure skating and short track speed skating at Beijing 2022.

A total of 31 athletes from nine countries and regions came to Beijing for the figure skating event. Many of them gave thumbs-up to the beautiful ice and local organizers.

"I feel so good about the ice here, which is conducive to fast and smooth skating," said the 18-year-old Yuma Kagiyama from Japan, who took the men's singles silver at the Stockholm Worlds in March and the gold at the Asian Open Trophy here last Friday.

Jenni Saarinen from Finland, who finished fifth in the women's singles, said that "everything here makes me excited. I hope I can compete here next year."

In the pairs free skate, China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong took the top spot, looking forward to the chance to perform on home soil at Beijing 2022.

"Our goal for Beijing 2022 is to hear the anthem in the medal plaza and see the national flag lifted," Sui said. "We'll raise the difficulty level of our routine over the next months, we have prepared for that, you'll see that over the next competitions."

As the test events in the Capital Gymnasium are without spectators, the International Skating Union (ISU) vice president Alexander Lakernik expressed the hope for a buzzing stadium when the Games starts.

"How many spectators will be allowed? The more the better, because this is the excitement. I would like to see as many people as possible," he said.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) will send 41 athletes to Beijing 2022 and Paralympics Australia will send nine and two guides, according to AOC President John Coates.

Coates added that it's a badge of honor that only Australia and Greece have attended every Games since 1896.

President of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) Syed Arif Hasan said that China's experience of holding the Beijing 2008 Olympics and its excellent organization capability will help make Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games an event par excellence.

Hasan noted that the Pakistani athletes are excited about the Winter Games.

"They are asking questions about Beijing and I told them they would enjoy the stay in China because it is an opportunity which they would remember all their life," he said.

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