China is aiming for “a breakthrough” at February’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics but already has half an eye on the Beijing 2022 Games, a senior sports official said.

Unlike the Summer Olympics, in which China excels, the country is not a heavyweight in winter sports and won just three gold medals at the Sochi Games in 2014, all in skating.

But winter sports are becoming increasingly popular in China and with Beijing staging the Winter Olympics in 2022, expectations are rising.

“With the 2018 Winter Games coming soon, we would like to have an impressive performance in Pyeongchang, but it’s not easy,” Gao Zhidan, deputy director of China’s General Administration of Sport, told the Xinhua news agency.

Chinese short-track skaters will again spearhead the country’s medal hunt in South Korea, but Gao is wary of the threat from the host nation and improving European competitors.

And he urged patience as China attempts to become competitive in a wider range of winter Olympic disciplines.

“We are not afraid of losing and we can still get up after failure,” Gao said.

“We would like to help our athletes have a good experience in Pyeongchang and get well prepared for the Beijing Olympics in 2022.”- Agence France-Presse

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