BEIJING, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Injured Olympic champion Wang Meng has been ruled out of the 139-member Chinese delegation for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, confirmed a senior sports official here on Sunday.
"After consulting with medical experts, we've decided that Wang Meng will not compete at the short-track speedskating competitions in Sochi," Xiao Tian, deputy director of the State General Administration of Sports told a press conference.
Less than a month before the start of the Sochi Games, Wang Meng, the country's most decorated athlete from winter sports sustained a serious ankle injury when she collided with a teammate during a training session in Shanghai.
"Wang was not skating at a high speed when the accident occurred. Her injury was absolutely unexpected," said Xiao. "She was diagnosed with double fractures in her right ankle and ruled out a possibility of regaining fitness in foreseeable future."
Medical experts said athletes need at least six to eight weeks for recovery following such a surgery, which means Wang will not be able to defend her 500 meters, 1,000m and 3,000m relay titles in Sochi.
"The Chinese team, however, still stand a good chance of winning in women's short track speedskating in Sochi," said Zhao Yinggang, director of China's winter sports administrative center. "It's time for the younger skaters to take more responsibilities."
With two-time Olympian Zhou Yang and world championship title-winning veteran Liu Qiuhong, upbeat starlet Fan Kexin among the 27 men and 39 women athletes heading for Sochi short-track ice ranges, China stay favorites in the women's 500m which Wang won in 2006 and 2010 Games, as well as the 3,000m relay they've won in 2010.
With a half of the athletes making their Winter Olympic debuts, the Chinese delegation will feature competitors in four sports with 49 events, out of 98 events in seven sports in total.
Tong Jian, 34, is the eldest athlete. The silver medalist in Vancouver will partner with his girlfriend Pang Qing to vie for the figure skating pairs title in their fourth Olympic campaign.
2006 Turin Games figure skating runner-up Zhang Hao will skate with the youngest athlete Peng Cheng, instead of his medal-taking partner Zhang Dan who's now in retirement.
Vancouver's silver medalist Li Nina is still leading the women's freestyle aerials rankings, and Wang Beixing, a favorite four years ago, is a medal hopeful in women's speed skating.
The Chinese women's curling teams, who won bronze in their Olympics debut in 2010, will try to make the podium again, while their male counterparts are absent this time.
Already a powerhouse in the Summer Olympics, China is still weak in winter sports. The world's most populous country didn't break its gold medal draught in the Winter Olympics until 2002 when Yang Yang took two short track speedskating titles. In Turin 2006, China brought home two gold, four silver and five bronze medals, while in Vancouver, they won five gold, two silver and four bronze.
Around 6,000 athletes from 85 countries and regions are expected to compete at Sochi with a total of 98 gold medals up for grabs.
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