BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- China's four-time Olympic short track speed skating champion Wang Meng has been appointed head coach of a new Chinese national team formed by the merger of the country's short track and speed skating squads, it was announced here on Thursday.
The appointment of former women's 500m and 1000m short track specialist Wang ends the 13-year tenure of her predecessor Li Yan at the helm of China's short track team.
The short track has historically been a happy hunting ground for China's Winter Olympians, as short track speed skaters have contributed ten out of a total of 13 gold medals that Chinese athletes have won at the past five Winter Olympics. However, the team failed to win a single title at this year's World Championships in March.
"It's a thoughtful decision to appoint Wang Meng to this important position," said Ni Huizhong, director of China's Winter Sports Management Center.
"Hopefully, Wang can lead the young squad to new heights, and the young coach will be fully trusted and widely supported," Ni added.
Wang, who turns 35 in July, was named head coach of the country's speed skating team last month, before the Winter Sports Management Center decided to increase the scope of her role.
"It reminds me of the good old days when we Chinese were just getting to know about short track speed skating," Wang said, recalling how China's short trackers once trained alongside the national speed skating team in the early 1980s.
"My coaching staff and I will keep past glories and traditions in mind, and together with all relevant parties, we will work out the best method of preparation for both squads ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on home ice," she said.
Li, who led the national squad to multiple medals at three Winter Olympic Games, will remain in her role as chairwoman of China's skating association, and showed her support for the decision to expand Wang's remit.
"I'll be as supportive as always while working behind the scenes to make sure everything goes smoothly," Li said.