‘Old’ athlete Zhang Hao ends three-decade skating career

Chinese figure skaters Yu Xiaoyu (left) and Zhang Hao train before their matches of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at the ice rink in Gangneung, South Korea on February 7, 2018. Photo: Xinhua

Zhang Hao, a veteran of Chinese pairs skating, announced his retirement from the sport on Wednesday, ending his 30-year athletic career at the age of 37.

Zhang revealed on CCTV-5’s Honor Hall that he decided to retire due to wear and tear on his body from injuries. He said he felt “regretted” that he was unable to compete in the 2022 Beijing Olympics with tears in his eyes.

Starting ice skating at the age of 4, the athlete competed in five Olympic Winter Games. A seasoned pairs skater, Zhang has changed partners three times during his career.

“Is Zhang Hao the Zhang Hao in Zhang Dan / Zhang Hao?” »Posted a user on Sina Weibo.

His partnership with Zhang Dan is remembered by fans as the duo who competed in the Olympics in 2002, 2006 and 2010, among which the 2006 Torino Games made the biggest impression on the public.

The two Zhangs won a silver medal at the Turin Games, the first Olympic silver medal in Chinese figure skating history.

However, with this glory also came pain. Zhang Dan had suffered a terrible fall, crashing directly onto the ice with his legs split open and his head hitting the boards during Salchow’s quadruple throw attempt.

Their failed attempt, however, was viewed by many fans as even more valuable than a gold medal as it demonstrated the courage and resilience of Chinese athletes.

“I never forgot the scene when they came back to the rink after the incident, the move was China’s ‘last card’ if we were to win that winter Olympic medal. I really care less about their quality, from a skill point of view. They were actually good at showing that sport isn’t all about winning and losing, ”Xingxing, an amateur figure skater, told the Global Times.

After Zhang Dan decided to retire after the 2011-12 season ended, Zhang decided to “hang on”, teaming up with two other partners over the years: Cheng Peng and Yu Xiaoyu.

“Although I won’t be on the ice too much, promoting winter sports and figure skating in China remains my responsibility,” Zhang told the media.

Zhang was born in Harbin, a city known for winter sports in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province. He has competed over 400 times and won over 200 medals during his career.

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