May 28, 2024

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An exclamation point for China, delivered by the finest margins

An exclamation point for China, delivered by the finest margins

Four years after the end of a heartbreaking second In the last OlympicsChina’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong finally won the gold medal in the figure skating pairs event on Saturday. Their victory, likely the host nation’s last medal, capped a scandal- and tearful week for their sport with an almost flawless performance, and added an exclamation point to China’s best-ever medal from the Winter Games.

Sui Han already knew the impact of the meager margin in the Olympics. On Saturday, they finally experienced the joy of being on the winning side.

Their gold, just like their silver four years ago, came in by the highest margins: 63 hundredths of a point. When their score was posted on the scoreboard at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, confirming their victory over Russian duo Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, Sui and Han immediately began to cry tears of joy. Within seconds, they had disappeared into a festive group of coaches and team officials, including one with a large Chinese flag.

Sui said, “I’m so happy, because I feel like my dream has come true.”

With a total of 239.88 points after winning the short program on Friday and free skating on Saturday, Soi and Han barely outperformed Russia’s Tarasova and Morozov (239.25 points). Another Russian pair, world champions Anastasia Mishina and Alexander Galiamov, finished third, less than two points behind.

Sui and Han’s victory was exactly what China had been hoping for when the pairs event was positioned as the last figure skating event at the Beijing Olympics. It was the first time in 60 years that duo skating, and not a more famous event like women’s singles, was the last skating event at the Winter Games.

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In a touching performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Sui and Han jump over Tarasova and Morozov, who had just advanced just minutes earlier with their impressive free sled. However, the Chinese duo had momentum behind them: They set a world point record in the short program on Friday, then came back on Saturday and broke the record for total points. And they did it all with the eyes of a nation upon them.

Before the games, the Chinese sports director had set a goal for the Chinese team: to surpass the country’s previous high for gold medals at the Winter Games. The number to beat was five. Sui and Han’s gold was the ninth for China in Beijing.

The two are well-liked in China, and maybe they are The best title for any Olympian. On the Chinese social networking platform Weibo, Sui and Han are together known as Bucket of Scallion. The name dates back to when they were teenagers, and Sui said her body was barrel shaped. Since the name Cong sounds similar to the word Mandarin referring to green onions, fans have put them together.

Sui and Han, both from Harbin, a city with long and harsh winters, were eager to make amends after losing the gold medal to a German team at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games by 43-hundredths of a point.

In Beijing, the Chinese duo faced stiff competition from three Russian pairs lined up behind them in the standings after the short programme. One by one on Saturday, as the free skating came to an end, one Russian team after another took the lead only to hand it minutes later to the Russians who followed.

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However, none of the Russians was good enough to beat Sui and Han, who bathed in applause from the small crowd of fellow countrymen who had been invited to watch the free skating.

After that, Sui praised China, its preparations for the Olympics, and the support that she and Han and their coaches received.

“And also, we want to thank our parents, who must have been through a lot in front of the televisions,” she added.

Liu Yi contributed to the research.