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China finishes third as 8th Asian Winter Games concludes

China ranked third in the medal table of the 8th Asian Winter Games (AWG) as host Japan finished first, as the games came to an end on Feb 26 with a closing ceremony in Sapporo.

China grabbed two silver medals and two bronzes on the final day to finish with 35 medals in total (12 golds, 14 silvers and 9 bronzes), while Japan, thanks to their dominance in snow events, topped the medal table with 27 golds and 74 medals overall. South Korea was second after winning the majority of the speed skating events, with 16 golds and 50 medals in total.

In the opening prelude to the closing ceremony, the Games mascot, a flying squirrel, led 34 children in a skating show, followed by several performances from figure skating champions including China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao.

The Chinese team made great progress and history-making breakthroughs in curling and skiing events this time around, compared with the 7th AWG in 2011.

In the curling event, Team China claimed two golds in both men’s and women’s games. Zang Ruxin won one gold in the women’s slalom snowboard, and Man Dandan won the women’s 1.4 km individual sprint classical, pocketing China’s first gold at the 8th AWG.

“As a Chinese, as an athlete, my goal is to witness the five-star red flag rising to the highest point,” said Man.

As the host of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, China is hoping to encourage 300 million people to take up winter sports and will turn to world-class foreign coaches for help.

The 8th AWG was the largest ever of its kind, attracting around 1,500 participants from 30 countries and regions.

Australia and New Zealand also made their first appearance at the games after accepting an invitation from the Olympic Council of Asia.