Born in Qitaihe in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, Wang Meng is a short track speed skater. She got her start in the sport when she was nine, first competing nationally when she was 16.
Why is she famous?
Wang, now 28, is China’s most decorated Winter Olympian with four gold medals, a silver and a bronze. CCTV also named her Female Athlete of the Year in 2010.
In addition to her sporting achievements, she is also known for her feisty temper. Wang was expelled from the national team for six months in 2007 after criticising her coach’s tactics at the Asian Winter Games. In 2011, she famously punched team manager Wang Chunlu for telling her off after she failed to return to the training camp on time (she’d been on a night out with teammates). Wang was later expelled from the skating team and banned from competitions (although she was brought back into the national team a year later, amazingly without having to apologise for the punch).
Why is Wang in the news?
This time it had nothing to do with her reputed temper. In mid-January it was reported that Wang had broken her right ankle in training and will miss the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Wang reportedly collided with a teammate out on the track and is expected to undergo surgery. “Wang was not skating at a high speed when the accident occurred. Her injury was absolutely unexpected,” Xiao Tian, deputy director of the State General Administration of Sports told a press conference. “She was diagnosed with double fractures in her right ankle, which ruled out the possibility of her regaining fitness in the foreseeable future.”
The news was upsetting for the many Chinese sports fans who say that Wang is the only reason to watch the Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to start this week. But Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao reckons that Wang’s injury should do little to dent her popularity. Why? Because she’s a renegade. “She combines the swimmer Sun Yang’s propensity for scandal and the tennis player Li Na’s rebellion,” it suggested. Additionally, like the hurdler Liu Xiang who crashed out of both the Beijing and London Olympics with injury, Wang will also win sympathy for her unfortunately-timed injury, says the newspaper.
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