Olympics In subtropical Taiwan, two women vie for spots at Beijing Winter Games

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TAIPEI, Nov 22 (Reuters) – Over the previous six years, Taiwanese luger Li Sin-rong has sped down sloping roads and mountain highways on her duct-taped inexperienced sled – utilizing wheels, not blades – in hopes of securing a spot at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Winter athletes on the subtropical island typically journey to coaching services overseas, however COVID-19 restrictions have restricted the period of time Li, 23, and 19-year-old alpine skier Lee Win-yi, have been capable of follow on ice and snow.

The two women have as an alternative relied closely on different coaching preparations in Taiwan as they ready for qualifying competitions.

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“From the start, we knew it would be very hard to stand on the awards podium. We just want to stand on the starting platform,” Lee stated. “Most athletes are charging towards first place, but we just want a spot.”

Lee grew up in a snowboarding household. Her father, Ader, was considered one of Taiwan’s few skilled skiers, however missed his probability to compete within the Olympics due to obligatory army service. He now runs an indoor ski coaching centre, the place his daughter trains on machines that simulate ski runs.

“For Taiwan’s skiing circle, attending the Winter Olympics has been a long-held hope. It has already been 30 years,” Ader stated, referring to the final Taiwanese skier to compete within the Olympics. “So everyone is forging ahead in this direction.”

Li will not discover out whether or not she qualifies for Beijing till late December at the earliest, and Lee not till mid-January. At the final Winter Games in 2018, Taiwan solely despatched 4 athletes, who gained no medals.

Indeed, Taiwan, the place snow brushes solely the very best mountaintops through the coldest winters, has by no means gained a medal at the Winter Olympics.

If Lee and Li compete, they might be on the “Chinese Taipei” group at the insistence of Beijing, which sees democratically ruled Taiwan as a part of “one China”.

Taiwan’s finest Olympic efficiency – in August in Tokyo – revived an previous debate over whether or not the island ought to compete underneath the title “Taiwan” and noticed a surge in pleasure at being Taiwanese.

Although neither athlete wished to speak immediately concerning the difficulty, they each stated they’re proud to characterize their homeland.

“I really hope to let the world see Taiwan,” Li stated.

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Reporting by Ann Wang and Fabian Hamacher; Writing by Sarah Wu. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Li Sin-rong, 23, a Taiwanese luger, carries her sled with wheels to her car before a practice session part of her training to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, in Taoyuan, Taiwan October 2, 2021. Picture taken October 2, 2021. REUTERS/Ann Wang

A staff member skis down a slope during an organised media tour to the National Alpine Skiing Centre, a venue of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, in Beijing's Yanqing district, China February 5, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Lee Win-yi, 19, a Taiwanese Alpine skier, trains at a gym before travelling abroad for training and competitions to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, in Taipei, Taiwan October 1, 2021. Picture taken October 1, 2021. REUTERS/Ann Wang

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